The BJP and the Sangh Parivar have taken the challenge of making their candidate’s win historical head-on. On the other hand, Congress candidate from Varanasi Ajay Rai and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) nominee Arvind Kejriwal are vying for the number two slot and it’s almost certain that the one who would be successful in bagging majority of Muslim votes will finish second.

The outcome of Varanasi would be crucial for AAP as well as Congress political future. Though polling is underway on 41 seats on Monday, the nation as well as the world has their eyes set on India’s cultural and intellectual capital Varanasi. The residents of this holy city, who have a baggage of past glories to talk of, are probably witnessing one of the biggest political showdowns in the modern political history.

The city, which has got a vista of issues to deal with – eroding river ghats, dirty water of the Ganga, congested alleys and soaring unemployment, is caught in the labyrinth of a neo-political situation.

The day Modi announced his candidature from this city; it became a major hubbub of all political activities.

Who is contesting against Modi?

Varanasi has always been a lucky constituency for the BJP after Ram Mandir Movement and there were even talks of fielding joint candidate against Modi but the idea never materialized.

Besides, the ‘show-of-strength’ which was ‘highlighted’, the day Modi filed his nomination papers from this holy city gave an indication that the BJP strongman would emerge victorious.

However, the contest is more important than the equations of win and loss. The prime question is who can provide a befitting challenge to Modi in ‘full-force’? It will all depend to which candidate three lakh Muslim voters cast their votes.

Had mafia don-turned politician and Quami Ekta Dal’s Mukhtar Ansari contested the polls, this won’t have been a major issue as a sizeable chunk of Muslim supporters would have sided with him.

However, he refused to contest the elections and instead, decided to extend support to Congress. In the last Lok Sabha polls, Ansari received a decent number of votes, mainly from the Muslim community.

At the same time, in spite of Mukhtar Ansari announcing support to Congress, chances are quite thin of Ajay Rai bagging majority of Muslim votes.

Kejriwal’s equations

Ever since BJP announced Modi’s candidature from Varanasi, Arvind Kejriwal started pulling all socks up in the city in wooing voters. And there must have been certain reasons behind Kejriwal’s decision to contest against Modi in the ‘swirling’ waters of River Ganga.

By projecting himself as a staunch opponent of Modi, the AAP chief has played a major draw of establishing a ground of sorts among Muslims, not only in Delhi but across the nation and its effects were pretty visible during the Lok Sabha polls in national capital as well.

He however carries the blotch of backing out of power in Delhi and it’s mainly due to this very reason, the middle class of Varanasi is not vouching for him at all.

Besides, Kejriwal seems to enjoy an ‘upper hand’ of sorts among the Muslims and he enjoys quite an ‘influence’ among the educated section of the community. His roadshow in the city few days back drew a good response as well.

Ajay Rai’s ‘local’ card

The Congress took quite a time in announcing its candidate from Varanasi. After a series of delay, the party fielded its MLA and strongman Ajay Rai from this politically crucial constituency.

Though even Priyanka Gandhi mentioned about Rai, the party was not pretty active during the process of campaigning. The grand old party then pressed its popular Muslim faces like Ghulam Nabi Azad and Salman Khurshid to campaign for Rai.The party even raised issue of insider versus outsider in the run-up to elections.

Meanwhile, a sizeable Muslim crowd was seen during roadshows of Kejriwal and Akhilesh Yadav. These were nothing but a show of strength in order to prove respective ‘might’ and woo voters.

It’s also being said that Kejriwal is the first ‘preference’ of Muslim voters and now it remains to be seen whether Mukhtar Ansari’s backing for Congress leaves any impact on the mind of the Minority.

The results of May 16 will make the entire picture clear.

(JPN/Bureau)

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