In what comes as a clear indication of PM Modi’s immense popularity in Varanasi, the Prime Minister carried out an astonishingly massive roadshow in the city a day before his nomination. The roadshow witnessed massive attendance with thousands of people assembling in order to catch a glimpse of the it. The kind of reception that PM Modi received must have sent his opponents in a tizzy. It must be noted that the roadshow saw such massive participation despite the day of roadshow being a really hot and humid day with the temperature hovering around 40°C.
This roadshow must have rattled the SP-BSP alliance and the Congress as the roadshow implies massive support for the BJP in Varanasi which could also have a spillover effect in the entire eastern UP region benefitting the BJP in a big way. PM Modi could actually end up winning by an even larger margin when compared with the 2014 parliamentary polls. It must be kept in mind that this time around PM Modi does not face very tough competition. The Congress has decided to field Ajay Rai once again, who had forfeited his deposit during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from the same Lok Sabha seat. The SP-BSP alliance has fielded Shalini Yadav. She is contrasting Lok Sabha polls for the first time and had also lost the mayoral poll in Varanasi in 2017. As such these candidates are unlikely to pose much of a challenge for PM Modi.
Interestingly, this roadshow came on the same day when the grand old party decided not to field Priyanka Gandhi Vadra from the Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency. In the recent past, there had been indications that the Gandhi scion might contest from Varanasi. had been increasing demands from party workers for Priyanka to contest the elections. She had publically asked in a meeting, “Varanasi se lad lun (should I contest from Varanasi?),” to which the Congress clan heartily cheered. Even Rahul Gandhi had stated, “As far as Priyanka is concerned, it is up to her to decide if she wants to contest the election or not.”
As per a report by Republic TV, in a political scoop coming out of the Congress camp, sources revealed that ‘her loss would be disastrous’. In her stead, the party has decided to field Ajay Singh, the party sacrificial lamb. Poor guy was fielded from Varanasi during the 2014 elections from the same constituency, finishing third with a mere 75,000 votes. The fact that Arvind Kejriwal stood before him with 2 lakh votes is something that any self-respecting politician will not want to add to his CV.
The fact remains that the Congress could not afford to field someone from the Gandhi family against the Prime Minister Varanasi. This is why Priyanka Gandhi did not go ahead with the much over hyped contest between her and PM Modi. In reality, a contest between PM Modi and Priyanka would have been no contest at all. With his massive popularity, there can be no real competition to PM Modi in Varanasi. The grand old party seems to have realised that in his constituency, PM Modi is invincible. In such circumstances, fielding Priyanka Gandhi against PM Modi would have led to unmanageable embarrassment for the party as well as the family ruling the party. The Congress is already facing a lot of heat in the ongoing polls and a crushing defeat for a Gandhi family member would have further aggravated the party’s agony.
Priyanka Gandhi and the Congress opted out of a contest against PM Modi in Varanasi out of the fear of a disastrous defeat. The roadshow only corroborates their apprehension. The Congress has in a way given up in the middle of the battle as far as the ongoing polls are concerned.