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PM Modi Files Nomination From UP's Varanasi

Prime Minister Modi Files Nomination From UP's Varanasi. Photo: Collected

Prime Minister Modi Files Nomination From UP's Varanasi. Photo: Collected

Prime Minister Narendra Modi filed his nomination for the 2024 Lok Sabha election from Uttar Pradesh's Varanasi Tuesday morning - after a flashy six km roadshow last evening - accompanied by a phalanx of senior leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party and its alliance partners, including party boss JP Nadda, Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, as well as Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his Meghalaya counterpart Conrad Sangma.

Alliance partners present included Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Jayant Chaudhary and Lok Janshakti Party leader Chirag Paswan, as well as Apna Dal (Sonelal) boss Anupriya Patel and the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party's Om Prakash Rajbhar.

This morning, en route to filing his papers, Mr Modi prayed at the city's iconic Dashashwamedh Ghat, on the banks of the Ganges, with UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath present, and visited the Kaal Bhairav Temple. Before visiting the temple he said, "My relationship with my Kashi is amazing, inseparable, and incomparable... it cannot be expressed in words!"

"I am overwhelmed and emotional! I did not even realise how 10 years passed under the shade of your affection. Aaj Maa Ganga ne mujhe god le liya hai (today, Maa Ganga has adopted me)."

After filing his papers Mr Modi went to the city's Rudraksh Convention Centre and interacted with party workers.

On Monday, after his roadshow, the Prime Minister said, "The love and blessings my family members of Kashi showed during the road show became an unforgettable moment in my life."

Mr Modi is seeking a third consecutive term from the BJP bastion; the party has won this seat eight times since 1991, with only RK Mishra of the Congress, in 2004, managing to break the stranglehold.

Varanasi will vote in the seventh and final phase of this election - on June 1. In the 2019 poll Mr Modi won by nearly 4.8 lakh votes, a big jump from the 3.72 lakh winning margin five years earlier.

In the 2014 election Varanasi saw a high-profile clash between the Prime Minister and Aam Aadmi Party boss Arvind Kejriwal, who gathered a little over 20 per cent of the votes on his debut in the BJP fortress. This time around (on paper) the PM's rival is the Congress' Ajay Rai. Mr Rai contested in 2019 and got 1.52 lakh votes, and an improved vote share of 7.04 per cent.

Hindus make up around 75 per cent of Varanasi's demographic. Muslims make up 20 per cent.

An estimated 10 per cent of the population belong to Scheduled Tribes and only 0.7 are from Scheduled Castes. The rural-urban split of the population is 65 to 35 per cent.

The BJP, also bidding for a third consecutive term, has set itself a target of 370+ seats (400+ with its allies), and the Prime Minister has led the party's charge, with strident attacks on the Congress-led opposition, including controversial references to Muslims that were widely condemned and drew cautious reprimands by the Election Commission. The poll panel sent notices to BJP chief JP Nadda and, responding to complaints filed by the saffron party, also to Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge.

Back in March, while announcing the dates of the seven-phase election, the EC had warned politicians not to cross the "red line" during campaigning. The poll panel told political parties it was putting them "on notice" and said informing their star campaigners of the guidelines was their responsibility._NDTV

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