Two days after Modi held a mammoth roadshow and a day after Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal attracted thousands, Gandhi rode on an open vehicle through the heart of Varanasi, surrounded by activists raising slogans in favour of the Congress party.

"We are confident of defeating Modi here," Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told the media as security personnel repeatedly pushed back crowds trying to reach out to Gandhi.

Modi faces stiff competition from Congress’ Ajay Rai and Kejriwal in Varanasi.

Gandhi, accompanied by Rai and other Congress leaders, waved at the crowds from his vehicle. It was the biggest show of strength by the Congress since the election campaign got under way in Varanasi.

Varanasi resident Shahid Ansari said, "We are traditional supporters of the Congress. We have been voting for the party for generations. We will continue to support it."

Gandhi was showered with flowers as supporters, wearing Congress caps and donning Rahul Gandhi paper face masks, cheered him and the party’s candidate Rai.

"Ajay Rai is a local leader and we are supporting him because he will stay here and work for us," said Gopal Yadav, another resident.

A Congress supporter described both Modi and Kejriwal as ‘outsiders’.

(Agencies)

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