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Last phase of UP polls: Varanasi turns into political ‘Maha-Kumbh'

Lucknow/New Delhi: Varanasi was on Saturday transformed into a political ‘Maha-Kumbh’ city with all the generals, ranging from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and BSP supremo Mayawati descending there to catapult their outfits to ultimate victory.

Milling crowds, the chanting of slogans like Har Har Modi, Har Har Mahadev as well as UP ke ladke and the BSP’s slogans Sarvajan hitaye sarvajan sukhaye, jumle vaadon mei na ayein rent the air of this ancient holy city, the home turf and parliamentary constituency of the Prime Minister.

Thousands thronged Mr Modi’s three-hour roadshow which moved at a snail’s pace amid slogans like Subah Banaras, shaam  Banaras, Modi tere naam Banaras as well as Jai jai Modi. The Prime Minister, easily the star attraction, waved at the massive crowds as people jostled to reach his vehicle.

In UP, Modi plays the patriotic card
Special flower-showering machines were also installed at several places on the route. After the roadshow the Mr Modi offered prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath and Kaal Bhairav temples, two of the foremost Hindu holy places there.

While the BJP appeared “mesmerised” by the crowd and the response, and felt the “magic of 2014 was recreated”, neither the party nor the Prime Minister are willing to take chances.

Given some reports that due to battles over ticket distribution in all five Assembly segments falling under the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat the contest “could be tough”, the PM has himself decided to camp in Varanasi till March 6, the last day of campaigning for the final phase of polling.

BJP sources claimed that distribution of tickets by the party leadership in all five Assembly seats had ruffled many saffron feathers. After “recreating the magic” on the streets of Varanasi, the PM held a public rally at Jaunpur, where he took on the Akhilesh Yadav government and claimed “mothers and daughters are not safe under the Akhilesh Yadav government.”

He then asked the crowd, “Should not women feel as secure as men?” He played the patriotic card by talking about the “brave jawans” who had carried  out the surgical strike against Pakistan. The Prime Minister claimed the “world is still studying the surgical strikes conducted by the soldiers.”

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