Modi files nomination papers from Varanas, “Ma Ganga has adopted me” Says Modi

NEW DELHI : After accomplishing his much-hyped five-km-long mega roadshow through the streets  of this ancient Hindu city, Prime Minister Narendra Modi filed his nomination for the 2024 Lok Sabha election from Varanasi Tuesday morning.
A flashy five km roadshow last evening – accompanied by a phalanx of senior leaders from the BJP 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.
Like his multiple visits to his constituency that is popularly known as the city of Baba Vishwanath, Modi’s nomination was yet again a huge event. And to top it all,Modi ensured that his proposers represent different sections of Hindu society. Thus if there was well-known local astrologer Gyaneshwar Shastri representing the Brahmin community, there were Baijnath Patel and Lalchand Kushwaha to fit the OBC bill, while Sabjay Sonkar was specially brought on board as a Dalit. That no Muslim figured among his proposers was a foregone conclusion.
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).”
Prime Minister Modi has total assets worth over ₹ 3 crore, but owns no land, houses or cars, he has said in his election affidavit. In the affidavit, PM Modi had declared total assets worth ₹ 3.02 crore, the bulk of which is made up of a fixed deposit worth ₹ 2.86 crore with the State Bank of India. His total cash in hand is ₹ 52,920 and he has ₹ 80,304 in two bank accounts in Gandhinagar and Varanasi.
The PM has ₹ 9.12 lakh as an investment in National Savings Certificates and also owns four gold rings worth ₹ 2.68 lakh. His income went up to ₹ 23.56 lakh in 2022-23 from ₹ 11.14 lakh in 2018-19.
In the education section, the PM has declared that he completed his Bachelor of Arts from Delhi University in 1978 and Master of Arts from Gujarat University in 1983. He has said there are no pending criminal cases against him.
As if to endorse their commitment to seeing Modi as India’s prime minister for the third consecutive time, chief ministers of a dozen states descended on this soil to be in attendance. Most prominent of these remained UP chief minister Adityanath, whose saffron robes provided the Hindutva hue to the whole show.
Unlike the previous day when he meandered through the streets of Varanasi atop a decked up vehicle, donning a sparkling saffron silk kurta with a spotless white waistcoat, Modi was now in different attire. Draped in a white kurta and a blue waistcoat, he walked into the chamber of the district magistrate cum returning officer, before whom he submitted his nomination papers at 11:40 am. This was not his Hindutva icon face that one witnessed the previous evening. This was the look of a prime minister who perhaps needed to impress upon all and sundry that he actually believed in the façade of his oft repeated “Sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas” slogan.
He looked all set to take the plunge to once again ride on to his much desired power pedestal, which he had acquired on two earlier occasions in 2014 and 2019. After all, he is aspiring to go into the annals of India’s history by becoming prime minister for the third consecutive time – a feat only Jawaharlal Nehru is credited with. Whether his dream gets fulfilled will be determined on June 4, when the EVMs will unravel what is hidden in them. It is another matter that much water has flown between the first and  fourth phases of  the seven-phase 2024 Lok Sabha election. And reports coming in from different states seem to suggest that a repeat of 2014 or 2019 could well be an uphill task for Modi .
Meanwhile, after spending the night at Varanasi’s Diesel and Locomotive Workshop (DLW) guest house, Modi began his day at 9:15, when he carried out a high-profile Ganga Arti before ‘Ma Ganga’ at the Dashwamedh Ghat , followed by a visit to the Kaal Bhairav temple and a brief cruise on the Ganga waters. He had already offered his prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath temple, where he concluded his spectacular roadshow on Monday evening.
INDIA bloc nominee and Congress leader Ajay Rai is contesting against Modi and this will be his third face-off with him from the soil of Varanasi. Rai, who is also president of the UP Congress, has been a five-time MLA from UP. Interestingly, he began his political innings in the BJP from which he got elected three times to the state assembly. Eventually he left the saffron camp and crossed over to the Congress as late as in 2009. He was handpicked by the Congress to take on Modi for the first time in 2014, when AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal also chose to challenge Modi in Varanasi. Rai finished third in that election.
In some exclusive interviews given by him to select TV channels from a jetty on the Ganga, Modi remained at his best to display his emotional ties with Varanasi and its people. Thus if “Ma Ganga ne mujhe bulaya hai (The Ganga has called out to me)” was the buzz he created in 2014, he now raised the pitch to proclaim, “Ma Ganga has adopted me in these ten years.”
After filing his papers Mr Modi went to the city’s Rudraksh Convention Centre and interacted with party workers.
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.



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