Zee Media Bureau
Varanasi: On `Mission Lok Sabha`, Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal arrived here on Tuesday morning.
The Aam Aadmi Party convenor will kickstart a month-long campaign against Bharataiya Janata Party`s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in Varanasi from today. Kejriwal will spend majority of his time in Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, until the constituency goes to polls on May 12, the last day of the 10-phase Lok Sabha election. The AAP leader had yesterday told a news channel that he would now shuttle between Amethi, from where his party member Kumar Vishwas is pitted against Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, and Varanasi.
Kejriwal is expected to spend time in villages in Varanasi, focussing mainly on small meetings all over the constituency and having discussions with members of various communities.
Kejriwal, who faced a hostile reception here last month when he went to address a public rally, is today greeted with posters describing him as `deserter`, an apparent reference to his resignation as Delhi Chief Minister within 49 days of taking charge.
The Aam Aadmi Party had earlier blamed the Congress and the BJP for the protests during which some people hurled stones and eggs at Kejriwal when he came out of the Kashi Vishwanath temple.
As soon as Kejriwal reached the holy city this morning by train, he was welcomed by his supporters who had gathered at Cantt railway station here in large numbers.
While AAP supporters welcomed Kejriwal with flowers, there were also posters in and outside the railway station that labelled the former Delhi chief minister as `bhagoda` (deserter).
AAP supporters removed many such posters, but tight police security ensured that there were no untoward action.
Kejriwal boarded the Shiv Ganga Express along with his parents and select party activists as well as a couple of Delhi Police personnel last evening.
A virtual mob had massed outside his carriage as word spread that the former Delhi chief minister was inside. Many people -- passengers and onlookers included -- warmly shook hands with him.
Others took several photographs of the man on their mobile phones.
Senior AAP colleagues including Sanjay Singh and Manish Sisodia are already in Varanasi.
April 24 is the last date for filing nomination in Varanasi. The last date for withdrawal of nomination is April 28. According to AAP leaders, Kejriwal was likely to file his nomination here on April 23, while he may go to Amethi for campaigning between April 20-22.
From Delhi, party activists have started reaching Varanasi.
Since Quami Ekta Dal leader Mukhtar Ansari has withdrawn from the electoral race, a popular view is that that there may be mass voting by Varanasi`s Muslims in favour of Kejriwal.
The AAP has a different view. “Muslims have always been with us. We don`t need to polarize Varanasi by appeasing Muslims,” Sisodia said.
Varanasi is home to 1.6 million voters. The seat was won in 2009 by Murli Manohar Joshi of the BJP, defeating Mukhtar Ansari.
(With IANS inputs)