Published from Mumbai, Delhi & Bhopal

‘Ab ki baar, 10 lakh paar’ is Varanasi’s clarion call for PM Modi’s third victory

Varanasi (UP) : The people of Varanasi have decided that they will gift Prime Minister Narendra Modi his third-straight victory from the Lok Sabha seat with a bigger margin of votes and they have given the clarion call of ‘Ab ki baar, 10 lakh paar.’

A young BJP worker, Aditya Singh, sums up the sentiments of the people of the constituency when he remarks, “The political heavyweights who are flocking to Varanasi, actually need not do so. They are here only to mark their attendance. Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not need any campaigning. Unka naam hi kafi hai.”

In the last few days, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Union Minister Piyush Goyal, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Mohan Yadav, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Ministers Brajesh Pathak and Keshav Maurya, along with BJP President JP Nadda have campaigned here.

While these bigwigs have been interacting with students, traders, artisans, weavers etc. the people of Varanasi – on their own – are campaigning for PM Modi.

For instance, the Gujarati community held rituals that lasted several days to pray for a bigger victory margin for the PM.

Music recitals and dance performances by artists from across the country, particularly southern India, serve as a reminder of the Kashi-Tamil Sangamam that the PM launched in 2022 to foster a cultural connect.

BJP spokesperson KK Sharma said, “Varanasi has witnessed a remarkable makeover in the last ten years. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done much more than what he promised. The cultural scene is relatively vibrant. Infrastructure is better. Tourist footfall has increased manifold. The law and order has improved. It was a city that stayed indoors after dusk. Today, you will find people queuing up for the morning darshan and aarti from 2.30 A.M. onwards.”

A local SP leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told , “PM Modi has turned Varanasi from a domestic tourist destination to an international tourist attraction. So many Heads of State have visited the city and the footfall of foreign tourists is increasing by the day. We are contesting against him because it is a democratic compulsion but nothing actually matters when he is in the fray.”

The electoral battle in Varanasi, according to locals and political experts, is not about whether PM Modi will win for a third-successive time, but whether he will increase his share of the votes polled and his victory margin and to what extent.

“The people are chanting ‘10 lakh paar’ and everyone is excited to set this target for the Prime Minister this time. It will be our tribute to him,” said Lokesh Mazumdar, a local businessman adding that the people are treating the elections as a celebration of sorts.

PM Modi had secured 56.37 per cent of the votes polled in Varanasi in 2014 when Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, had challenged him.

In 2019, his vote share increased to 63.6 per cent. Interestingly, the number of contenders for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat, which was 42 in 2014 and 26 in 2019, is only eight in 2024.

According to the Election Commission’s website, as many as 55 people filed their nominations, but only the papers of eight contestants were accepted.

He further said, “People are keenly observing the political landscape. The Congress candidate Ajay Rai, who is a part of the INDIA bloc, and BSP’s Ather Jamal Lari, are merely working to put up a decent fight. They also know that they are nowhere near the victory post.”

The Opposition campaign in Varanasi is tepid. Their supporters claim that it was more vigorous in localities and nearby villages known to be supporters of the SP, BSP and the Congress.

The INDIA bloc is also trying its utmost on a seat where the result appears to be a foregone conclusion.

The Congress’ Priyanka Gandhi and the SP’s Dimple Yadav held a roadshow on Saturday. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi are scheduled to address a rally later this week, but though they are drawing crowds, it is unlikely to have any impact on the results.

The enthusiasm and excitement in Varanasi, in fact, is bound to have a cascading impact across Purvanchal.

Hindi Website