Varanasi, May 10 IBNS | 7 months ago

The Congress on Saturday said both Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo Arvind Kejriwal, who are contesting the polls from Varanasi, are outsiders to the Lok Sabha constituency.

"Both Modi and Kejriwal are outsiders and political opportunists. Only Ajay Rai (Congress candidate) understands the pulse of Varanasi," said party leader Randeep Surjewala.

"What have Modi and Kejriwal done for Varanasi? Have they brought any project to Varanasi?" he asked.

Congress leader Meem Afzal said Rai enjoys the support of all people.

"Ajay Rai has a huge local silent support. Neither Modi has norKejriwal has that," Afzal said.

In a show of strength, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday held a massive rally in Varanasi town of Uttar Pradesh.

Gandhi started his roadshow from Gol Gadda Chauraha, passed through Peeli Kothi and Benia Bagh, where Modi was earlier denied permission to hold a rally, and headed towards Lanka.

He stood in an open jeep wearing a Nehru topi with Congress colours and logo, waved to the people and requested them to vote for party candidate Ajay Rai with folded hands.

The Gandhi scion was musically welcomed by legendary musician Ustad Bismillah Khan's family who played shehnai for him.

The streets were flooded with people waving Congress flags, party supporters shouting slogans for the party and Gandhi.

He ended his rally at Lanka Gate, Banaras Hindu University (BHU) by paying a tribute to the university founder Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya.

Meanwhile, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley on Saturday slammed the Election Commission (EC) for allowing Gandhi hold a roadshow in Varanasi.

"How can the EC allow Rahul Gandhi to hold a roadshow in Varanasi while the same was denied to Narendra Modi (BJP's prime ministerial candidate)?" Jaitley asked.

"The roadshow is passing through the same area where we were denied permission. So it is clear that the EC ban was for political reasons and not security ones as was stated," he said.

Pertinently, Varanasi is one of the most keenly watched seats in the ninth phase of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections where the main contest is among BJP's Narendra Modi, AAP's Arvind Kejriwal and Congress' Ajay Rai.

Saturday was the last day of campaigning in Varanasi before the polls on May 12.

The EC on Friday stood by its statement that there was security reason behind the decision to cancel Modi's rally in Varanasi.

"We had specific inputs that there was threat to Narendra Modi's rally," Election Commissioner HS Brahma said during an interaction with Indian Women Press Corps in New Delhi.

Brahma, however, said that poll officials at the ground level should take prompt decisions and convey it to the concerned political parties.

(Posted on 10-05-2014)

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