A Modi-Centric Battle



Modi has won hearts saying the country’s people were his “heirs” and that he would be leaving behind “a developed India”.

This election, there is little doubt, is Modi-centric. Love him or hate him; but you cannot ignore him. He is the face of BJP’s campaign and he is, in a way, also the face of opposition’s campaign in that leaders of INDIA block revile him day in and day out.

But Modi mania was clearly visible as the Prime Minister held a roadshow in Varanasi, his Lok Sabha constituency, ahead of filing his nomination papers from there for the third time. The show that lasted for about two-and-a-half hours, started from the statue of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya outside the main gate of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and concluded at the Kashi Vishvanath temple after passing through Ravidas Gate, Pushkar Lake, Assi Ghat, Shivala, Sonarpura, Madanpura and Jangamwadi Math. “Kashi is special… The warmth and affection of the people here is unbelievable,” the Prime Minister wrote on X.Accompanied by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and state BJP president Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary the Prime Minister waved at his ecstatic supporters standing atop an open vehicle. The Opposition INDIA bloc has fielded Uttar Pradesh Congress president Ajay Rai against him but everyone knows that it’s a no contest.

As s BJP supporters raised slogans of “Jai Shri Ram”, “Har Har Mahadev”, “Humar Kashi, Humar Modi”, and “Phir ek baar Modi sarkar,” the question being debated on the ground was Modi’s victory margin. In 2014, when Modi first contested from Varanasi, he polled about 3.37 lakh votes more than AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, his nearest rival. The constituency recorded a voter turnout of 58.35 per cent then.

In 2019, when the voter turnout in Varanasi was 57.81 per cent, Modi’s victory margin increased to 4.80 lakh votes against the Samajwadi Party’s Shalini Yadav. A majority of the voters in the constituency are upper-caste Hindus, including Brahmins, Bhumihars and Jaiswals, followed by Muslims and OBCs.

“Modi will obviously win. He has worked a lot. Things have changed for the better. There is a huge difference in Kashi, as well as the country. Modiji will win by a big margin because he is loved by all,” said a resident of Varanasi.

Modi has won hearts saying the country’s people were his “heirs” and that he would be leaving behind “a developed India”. He has been attacking the Opposition on a range of issues, including Pakistan, saying INDIA bloc leaders were “cowards” who were “scared” of the neighbouring country.

Targeting the Congress and former chief minister Lalu Prasad’s RJD at a rally he said, “So long as I am alive, no one can take away the quota” of backward class, Scheduled Castes and the tribals”. The RJD, he added, had only “misrule, kidnappings and murders” during its “jungle raj” as its report card.

Modi addressed three back-to-back rallies in Bihar’s Hajipur, Saran and Muzaffarpur. Ahead of the rallies, he visited the Takhat Sri Harimandir Ji Patna Sahib in Patna City where, wearing a turban, he bowed his head in Darbar Sahib and served ‘langar’ to devotees.

At Hajipur, to campaign for LJP (R) chief Chirag Paswan, Modi sought to establish an emotional chord, saying “I have come here to repay the debt of my friend, late Ram Vilas Paswan. If Chirag wins by a bigger margin than his father, that alone could give comfort to the soul of Ram Vilas Paswan”.

His campaign has been on similar lines in many other parts of the country. He knows, like most of his party leaders, that this election is crucial for the BJP and himself. His becoming the Prime Minister for the third time in a row would be a unique record which has never been achieved by a non-Congress leader in the country.