Narendra Modi takes Varanasi by storm ahead of filing nomination; Congress cries foul

Zee Media Bureau

Varanasi: Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial candidate for 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Narendra Modi literally took the holy city of Varanasi by storm on Thursday and brought it to a standstill for a couple of hours.

Modi held a massive roadshow here today in which thousands turned up in his support before filing his nomination before the District Collector. He was accompanied by his close aide Amit Shah along with Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Ravi Shankar Prasad and others.

Chanting "Modi, Modi, Modi", tens of thousands of activists of the sangh parivar accompanied the 63-year-old on a three-km road show that took over three hours to wound through the streets of Varanasi in the blistering heat, PTI reported.

"After coming here, I felt nobody has sent me nor have I come here. I am here because Maa Ganga has called me. I feel like a small child on mother's lap. I pray to God to give me the strength so that I can serve this city," Modi said.

Sound of conch shells rent the air and rose petals were showered, as Modi, riding atop an open truck, waved to cheering people along the three-km route from Lahurabeer to Kacheri.

Donning Modi T-shirts, masks and holding BJP flags, people lined up the arterial roads and occupied balconies and rooftops to have glimpse of a man they may be electing as PM.

As the convoy made its way through Muslim-dominated Nadesar, several people from the minority community also greeted the BJP leader who faces challenge from by AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and Congress' Ajai Rai, a local MLA, besides others.

Madan Mohan Malaviya's grandson, Giridhar Malaviya, a retired judge of the Allahabad High Court and Padma Vibhushan winner Chhandu Lal Mishra, a noted classical singer of Varanasi, were among the four proposers of Modi. Both of them accompanied Modi during the filing of the nomination.

The other seat that the Gujarat CM is contesting from is Vadodara. Later Amit Shah, who is BJP's in-charge of UP, said that the roadshow has proved that the 'Modi wave' has turned into a 'Tsunami'. He also said that Modi contesting from Varanasi would have an impact in Bihar and other neighbouring states also.

Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi had contested this seat successfully in 2009. He vacated the Varanasi seat for Modi and is contesting the 2014 General Elections from Kanpur.

Modi later tweeted, "I am emotionally touched and moved to see the enthusiasm and hardwork of our Karyakartas. We are very proud of you all.''

"My coming to Varanasi is like a child going to his Mother. I have come to this divine land on the call of Ganga Mata,” he added, saying further, “Thank you Varanasi. No words will describe the affection you have showered today. Truly touched."

He also thanked the policemen and security forces who were there for the roadshow and nomination process.

Unveiling a road map for development of Varanasi, Modi wrote on his website that he envisioned the town as a world heritage site to draw both devotees and those who wished to understand and absorb India's culture.

He said he has plans to clean up the town as well as the river Ganges, besides the uplift of the tourism sector and the welfare of weavers.

Earlier, Modi was given a rousing welcome at Banaras Hindu University (BHU), where he paid floral tributes at the statue of Madan Mohan Malviya, the founder of the renowned educational institutions.

He also garlanded statues of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel at the Kashi University complex and Swami Vivekananda near the Kacheri.

The BJP had made elaborate arrangements to make the road show a grand success. Workers in all the 90 wards in the city had reached the venue of the road show by carrying out procession from their respective wards.

The party had invited all sections of people with special special requests to the citizens from Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, residing here to come in their traditional dress. In some areas, traders had shut their shops to participate in the road show.

Congress demands FIR against Modi for "violation" of model code

Meanwhile, probably rattled by the massive show of strength by BJP and Modi, the Congress demanded registration of FIR against the Gujarat CM dubbing as a "flagrant violation" of the model code telecast of his roadshow and his filing of nomination in Varanasi in 117 constituencies that went to polls today.

"We do not want just issuing of notice. We want action. FIR should be registered against all BJP leaders involved including the candidate from Varanasi," party spokesman and Union Minister Anand Sharma told reporters in New Delhi.

Insisting that the telecast of Modi's roadshow and his filing of nomination has "gravely violated" the model code, Sharma alleged that this was done as part of a "well-planned" scheme of BJP to influence the voters in the constituencies that voted on Thursday.

He said the law was very clear that there cannot be canvassing on the polling day.

Noting that the BJP programme was an elaborate affair and the telecast took place from 8 am till 3 pm, Sharma wondered as to "why the EC was not alert" and why the media was not told against telecasting it in the constituencies having polling today.

Sharma downplayed a question when asked that there was polling in Tripura when Rahul Gandhi had filed his nomination in Amethi which was shown live all over the country. He said that today the constituencies involved were 117, the second largest number of seats having polling in a single day in in the nine-phase elections.

The 117 constituencies cover 11 states and Union Territory of Puducherry in the sixth phase of Lok Sabha elections.

BJP hits out at Congress over complaint against Modi roadshow

On the other hand the BJP today hit out at Congress for complaining against Narendra Modi roadshow in Varanasi to the Election Commission, saying it reflected the party's desperation.

"Anand Sharma, who is a Minister, is speaking out of desperation. He is saying nomination was filed and telecast live, so there should be an FIR. But FIR on what?" BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said in the national capital.

Attacking Congress, Javadekar said "Election Commission has given the date for nomination filing. So FIR should be against EC? Media is showing it so FIR should be filed against it also?”

"What was wrong if nomination was filed on the appointed day? Nothing wrong in it. But Congress does not understand how to oppose it."

With PTI inputs

PTI
First Published: Thursday, April 24, 2014, 23:33
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