VARANASI— Prime Minister Narendra Modi will file his nomination as BJP’s candidate from Varanasi on Friday at 11:30 am.
A day before filing his nomination for the Lok Sabha polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a mega roadshow in Varanasi on Thursday, drawing massive crowds, before culminating the show of strength with the “Ganga aarti” at the Dashashwamedh ghat.
Soaring the political temperatures, Modi was joined by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and other senior BJP leaders in the temple town, on a day the Congress ended the speculation over Priyanka Gandhi Vadra contesting the polls against the prime minister by announcing Ajay Rai’s candidature from Varanasi.
Later, addressing a meeting, Modi said while the last five years were about his government making sincere efforts, the next five will be about results.
He also laid stress on national security and said a new India gives a befitting reply to terror.
“Grateful for the warmth and affection!,” Modi tweeted after the commencement of the seven-km roadshow, which passed through several parts of the city, including the Lanka, Godhalio and Assi areas, amid a cheering crowd wearing saffron-coloured attires and showering rose petals.
The prime minister started his roadshow by garlanding the statue of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) founder Madan Mohan Malviya.
Wearing a saffron kurta and a white pyjama along with a matching saffron scarf, Modi waved at the people who lined up on both sides of the road and jostled to get a glimpse of him.
Chants of “Modi, Modi” rent the air as BJP supporters danced to music and the beating of drums in front of huge banners reading “Main bhi chowkidar”.
Modi is on a two-day visit to his parliamentary constituency and is scheduled to file his nomination on Friday in the presence of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leaders, including Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Modi, who contested from two seats ― Varanasi and Vadodara in Gujarat ― defeated Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal from here. Congress’s Rai had finished third.
The nearly four-hour roadshow ended at the Dashashwamedh ghat, where Modi took part in the “Ganga aarti” along with Shah and Adityanath. Later, the prime minister also performed a puja.
Shyamlal Sharma (50), a local BJP worker who was wearing a saffron-coloured T-shirt with a graffiti saying “Modi forever”, termed the roadshow a carnival for the city.
Shiromani Akali Dal patriarch and former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan are also expected to be present when the prime minister files his nomination, the BJP had said.
The Congress, however, alleged that Modi’s roadshow was aimed at covering up his failure in honouring the promises made to the people of Varanasi and demanded that he should apologise for “betraying” them.
“Optics are more important than results and that is why the roadshow is being taken out, as the resolve of serving the people of Varanasi that Modiji had taken, the commitment he had shown to purify Ganga Ma, he has been completely unsuccessful in that,” Congress spokesperson Ragini Nayak said.
The prime minister wants people’s cries to get “drowned in today’s noise and show”, she alleged.
Addressing the meeting after the roadshow, Modi, in an apparent reference to the February 14 terror attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in south Kashmir, said, “They killed 40 jawans in Pulwama, we have killed 42 terrorists in that area.”
He said this was the way his government functioned, adding that the world backed India in its fight against terror.
The prime minister also referred to the recent bomb blasts in Sri Lanka, saying innocent people observing Easter lost their lives.
Talking about Varanasi, he said he would not claim that whatever he had wished for his constituency had come true in the last five years.
But the pace and direction of its development were right, Modi said and outlined the work done by his government in Varanasi.