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HomeIndiaVaranasi is a no-contest for Narendra Modi yet again

Varanasi is a no-contest for Narendra Modi yet again

Narendra Modi will likely better his victory margin this time as he leads by more than 4 lakh votes. In 2014, he defeated Arvind Kejriwal by over 3 lakh votes.

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Lucknow: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set for another thumping victory at Varanasi, leading his Lok Sabha constituency by over 4 lakh votes as of 3.30 pm.

This time, however, there was none of the high-octave electioneering of the 2014 elections when the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal was pitted against Modi.

With around 5.8 lakh votes polled in his favour, Modi had defeated Kejriwal by over three lakh votes. The Congress’ Ajay Rai, who the party has retained for the seat, managed 75,000 votes the last time.

Modi leading in this BJP is bastion is no surprise as Varanasi has also seen visible development under him. From cleaner ghats, better basic amenities to a multi-modal river transportation system, the city has undergone a transformation.

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Cleaner ghats to river transportation system

In the past five years, the constituency has witnessed one of the most ambitious projects of the PM with narrow lanes leading to the ghats undergoing change. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple Development or the Kashi Dham project, whose foundation stone was laid by Modi in March, is aimed at providing easy access to pilgrims — an unhindered view of the Kashi Vishwanath temple from the ghats, its approach dotted with tree-lined avenues, meditation centres and presence of basic amenities such as drinking water and toilets.

The project entails acquisition and demolition of around 270 buildings near the Kashi Vishwanath temple and the creation of a corridor for easy pilgrim access. The acquisition process had met with resistance from a section of locals but the administration claims to be have acquired and demolished most of the necessary buildings and shops.

Under Modi’s term, his constituency also saw India’s first multi-modal terminal or river transportation being inaugurated, projects under Namami Ganga programme being sanctioned, electricity cables being laid underground and a cancer treatment hospital being constructed.

Also read: UP firmly with Modi and BJP as Akhilesh-Mayawati gathbandhan falters

A controversial build-up

The run-up to this election, however, was not devoid of election drama. After fielding former Congress leader Shalini Yadav, the SP-BSP-RLD gathbandhan had a change of heart.

On 29 April, the alliance picked expelled BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav to fight Modi. Posted near the LoC in 2017, the former BSF personnel had raised concerns about the quality of food being served to security personnel in a series of videos, which had gone viral at the time.

Tej Bahadur’s nomination papers for Varanasi, however, were rejected by the Election Commission officials two days after he had filed his nomination. The rejection had come because the former BSF personnel failed to produce a certificate stating that he had not been dismissed from service due to corruption or disloyalty to the state.

Varanasi hit headlines again when newly appointed Congress eastern UP in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, after visiting the constituency via a boat from Prayagraj in March, announced that she would contest the seat if her party asked her to do so. While the statement had generated enough buzz, the party stuck to its former Varanasi hand Ajay Rai.

Also read: Early Lok Sabha trends show BJP-led NDA leading in 274 seats, past majority mark


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