Varanasi Lok Sabha Election Result 2019: Modi leads in BJP stronghold shows initial counting
- Exit polls predict that most of Uttar Pradesh is going to the way of the Grand Alliance but Narendra Modi’s constituency, Varanasi, may still want to give the Indian Prime Minister another chance.
- Modi’s campaign involved highlighting infrastructural development while his opponents argued that most of the development over the past five years was superficial.
- Modi has been accused of ignoring the demand of weavers and playing a divisive role between Hindus and Muslims in the constituency.
Even though the fighting primarily between the Grand Alliance and the BJP, Congress’ upper caste candidates could spoil things by eating into BJP votes playing in BSP-SP’s favour.
Initial counting by NDTV shows Modi leading the state so far and other party's trail behind.
On the one hand, the BJP is claiming that Varanasi’s development over the past five years trumps improvements in Amethi — the constituency of Modi’s primary contender from Congress, Rahul Gandhi — but on the other, Modi’s opposition is arguing that most of the development is superficial.
But despite the pockets of resentment, it seems like India’s 3,000 year old city might give Modi a fighting chance against the Grand Alliance.
Different definitions of development
Modi has been riding on ‘Brand Varanasi’ highlighting the benefits of regular electricity, the addition of a four lane airport road, the planned ‘Heritage Corridor’ that will increase connectivity to the Vishwanath temple and the new cancer hospital.
The Mahagathbandhan candidate, Shalini Yadav and Congress’ Ajay Rai have been arguing that most of the improvements do little to address the primary concerns of the voter — unemployment and cleaning up the Ganga.
Voters are also reportedly concerned about their freedom of speech and the growing threat of being classified as ‘anti-national’ if you happen to disagree with a government policy.
The constituency’s community of weavers claim that for Modi, they do not exist. And, that his politics are only deepening the divide between Hindus and Muslims in the constituency.
The Kashi Vishwanath ‘Heritage Corridor’, while increasing connectivity, will be built as the cost of demolishing hundreds of old homes that fall in its way.
Even so, Modi fever can be seen in the constituency as people are happy with the improvement in the quality of roads and the sparkling LED lights that adorn the the city’s ghats.
BJP has been winning the seat in Varanasi since 1991,with the exception of 2004 when Congress’ Rajesh Kumar Mishra came out on top — and that was mainly due to internal disagreements within the BJP. But the issues of unemployment and pollution in the Ganga remain unaddressed according to voters in the area.