LUCKNOW: With the UP assembly polls just a year away, the state's political landscape is bustling with activity and a reflection of this was seen in Varanasi on Saturday when stalwarts of almost all the political parties made a beeline for the Sant Ravidas temple to pay tributes to the Dalit saint on his 644th birth anniversary in a bid to woo the Dalits of Uttar Pradesh.
Prominent among those who descended on to Varanasi on the occasion were Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav. Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who was representing PM Modi, had already been camping in the holy city for the last two days.
Pradhan was the first one to visit Sant Ravi Das temple to pay his obeisance to the saint in the morning followed by Priyanka, Akhilesh and also Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad 'Ravan' later in the day.
Making a conspicuous bid to woo back her party's traditional Brahmin-Muslim-Dalit vote bank in Uttar Pradesh, the AICC general secretary has been hopping from one temple to another.
After bowing at the Dargah, temples and taking a holy dip at the Sangam, the Congress General Secretary drove straight to Guru Ravidas Maharaj's birthplace, known as Seer Govardhanpur at Begampura, from the airport. She offered prayers at Sant Ravidas temple and sought blessings from Sant Niranjan Das.
It is an annual affair for political leaders to make a beeline for the Sant Ravidas temple in Varanasi to woo Dalits in the state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also offered prayers at the temple in 2016.
In the morning, Union Petroleum, Oil and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan paid obeisance at the temple and sought blessings from Sant Niranjan Das on Saturday. Representing the PM, he told the temple's Chief Priest that the Central government was planning to renovate and develop the existing temple to give it a grand look.
The Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav also visited the temple to be a part of the celebrations for the first time. However, after having darshan at the temple, the SP chief launched an attack on the UP government saying it had failed on all fronts.
The BSP chief Mayawati tweeted to pay obeisance to the great saint. She also congratulated his followers on the occasion and advised Central and State governments to follow the path shown by Saint Ravidas for the welfare of people.