Millennium Post

BJP plays its Kashi card

Kejriwal has announced his candidature in his own style, but he could not attract the crowd he expected, when he was making his announcement to fight from Varanasi. The poor attendance at the Beniyabag ground indicates that he may not be even in the main contest, but no one doubts that he would continue to grab media attention with his style of electioneering and by raising big issues.

Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are notorious for caste and communal politics and this would be in full play in Varanasi. In Varanasi, there would be no direct fight, but it would be a multi cornered contest and this is going to help Narendra Modi to a great extent. Even Murli Manohar Joshi was able to win this seat because of the division of anti BJP votes in the last election. Joshi could get only 30 per cent of total votes and won by a thin margin. The second was Mukhtar Ansari, who was fighting as a candidate of BSP.

Muslims form the largest block of voters in Varanasi. According to an estimate they are over 2 lakh and 20 thousand. The second largest block is of Yadavas numbering over two lakhs. Third largest social group is of Kurmis, who are around one lakh forty thousands. Brahmins account for around one lakh, so are the Bumihars. Vaishya community, to which Narendra Modi belongs, also has over one lakh voters.

It was because of the vast population of Muslims, that Kejriwal again repeated there that communalism was a greater problem than corruption. He is the product of a movement against corruption, but he knows that if he has to get the votes of Muslims, he has to harp on communalism. But million dollar question is,’ Will Kejriwal be able to attract Muslim votes there.’ The pattern of voting suggests that if someone from Mukhtar Ansari family is contesting from Varanasi, the Muslim voters will vote for him or her. Hence, the secular vs. communal bogey raised by Kejriwal is hardly to yield votes for him.

It is said in BJP circles that it was not the choice of Modi to fight from Varanasi. He did not want to contest from outside Gujarat, but he was made convinced that by fighting from Varanasi, he woild rejuvenate the BJP supporters of Eastern UP and Bihar and the party would fare better. In Eastern UP BJP was not feeling strong, so it decided to field Modi from Varanasi.

Again, Modi was not ready to raise religious issues in this election, because he wanted to be seen a moderate leader, who wish to accommodate people of all sects and religions. Varanasi can be termed as the cultural capital of Hindus and candidature of Modi from here is likely to satisfy those, who want BJP to have open religious agenda during the electioneering. Varanasi is also a home of conflict over Gyanvapi Mosque. Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other RSS outfits have been campaigning to remove this mosque from the temple complex of Kashi Vishwnath. History says that it was original Vishwanath temple, which was converted into a Mosque during the reign of Aurangajeb. The present temple was constructed by Ahilyabari Holkar later on. After Babri Mosque of Ayodhya, this Gyanvapi Mosque has been on the radar of RSS. It should be reminded that when Babri Masjid was being demolished in 1992, the demolishers were raising slogan,’ Abhi to bas yah jhanki hai, Kashi Mathura baki hai’ meaning it was just the beginning show, Kashi and Mathura were yet to go.

BJP has played its Varanasi card well. Some of the political analysts were of the view that Rajnath was preparing a trap for Modi in Varanasi, because he could be defeated there due to the caste politics of the constituency. But, it is possible only if there is direct fight, where winner has to get around 50 per cent of votes cast, but the politics of UP is fragmented and there is no possibility of such direct contest. BSP, SP, Congress, AAP and Mukhtar Ansari would be taking on Modi and in this scenario, even 30 per cent of votes cast is sufficient to ensure victory of any candidate.

Other than Muslim community, Modi is likely to get votes from almost all communities. SP and BSP have fielded candidates from Vaishya communities- Kailash Chaurasia and SP Jaiswal respectively. They are lightweight. Perhaps they have been fielded to divide the Vaishya votes and facilitate the polarisation of Yadavas and Dalits around the candidate of Mukhtar Ansari. This strategy is not going to damage Modi, because Yadav and Muslim voters may be influenced by Hindutwa plank and also it is a fact that Modi wave cuts across the caste lines.

Kurmi leader, Anupriya Patel (the daughter of Sonelal Patel of Apna Dal) has joined hands with BJP and herself fighting from Mirzapur in alliance with BJP. This will further boost the chance of Narendra Modi to win the election. Brahmins are solidly behind him because of the religious factor and also with the hope that he may improve the basic amenities of Varanasi resulting into more facilities for the pilgrims making it the better destination of religious tourism.

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