Yogi, Nadda woo and Piyush Goyal laughs as BJP focuses on bigger win for PM in Varanasi

The BJP is targeting an at least 8 lakh votes winning margin for Modi in the June 1 election, for which it's particularly focussing on the two rural assembly segments.
BJP President JP Nadda during campaigning in Varanasi.
BJP President JP Nadda during campaigning in Varanasi.Special Arrangement

VARANASI: Union commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal joining a laughter yoga session. BJP president JP Nadda enjoying kulhad tea in the middle of wooing the temple city's brahmins. UP CM Yogi Adityanath looking to win over the lawyer community.

These are but three of the sights that Varanasi has thrown up in recent days. The mission for the trio and other big guns here is simple: work towards increasing the winning margin of two-time sitting MP Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Besides them, union ministers S Jaishankar and Giriraj Singh, MP CM Dr Mohan Yadav and actor-turned-politicians Manoj Tiwari and Arun Govil also have embarked on voters' outreach programmes across the Varanasi seat spread across three urban and two rural assembly segments.

BJP President JP Nadda during campaigning in Varanasi.
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Surprise visitor

Morning walkers at the Shahid Udyan in the posh Sigra locality (which forms part of the Varanasi Cantt assembly seat) had a surprise visitor on Monday, as the union commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal not only joined them in Yoga sessions (including Laughter Yoga), but also interacted with them over cup of tea at a special Chai Par Charcha program at a tea stall in the adjoining Shastri Nagar locality.

Will Piyush Goyal be laughing with as much vigour on June 4? That is the big question now.
Will Piyush Goyal be laughing with as much vigour on June 4? That is the big question now.Special Arrangement

In the same Varanasi Cantonment assembly segment, the BJP Mahila Morcha national president Vanathi Srinivasan interacted with third-gender voters and told them about the pro-third gender initiatives taken by the Modi government.

Meeting the loyalists and wooing the others

In the Varanasi South assembly segment, the BJP national president JP Nadda himself was in action, addressing a meeting of the Brahmin caste's prominent citizens. Importantly, Brahmin voters who number 2-2.5 lakh are considered among the BJP's most loyal voter base in the temple city.

In the rural assembly segments, MP CM Dr Mohan Yadav spent around 45 minutes at the riverside Garhwa Ghat Ashram in Rohania assembly constituency in the morning, before flying off to Bihar for poll campaigning.

The ruling party's local face Shalini Yadav (the first runner-up in the 2017 mayor elections as Congress candidate and the second runner-up as SP candidate in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls) accompanied the MP CM to the Ashram, which has a strong influence on the Yadav caste people in the entire Varanasi region.

Importantly, the PM Narendra Modi had visited the same Ashram in 2014 and 2017 during the LS and assembly polls.

"The MP CM's poll rally in the Yadav caste dominated Seer Govardhan area of Rohania assembly segment was very successful on Sunday evening and his Monday morning visit to the Garhwa Ghat Ashram too will turn crucial," Shalini Yadav told The New Indian Express.

Mohan Yadav: From unlikely CM to campaigner for PM at Varanasi.
Mohan Yadav: From unlikely CM to campaigner for PM at Varanasi.Special Arrangement)

Importantly, Yadavs (who are largely seen to be SP supporters) constitute around 1.5 to 2 lakh voters out of the 19.60-lakh plus voters in the constituency. The BJP is particularly working at ensuring that it’s Yadav caste vote in urban assembly segment (who’ve has largely stayed loyal to the saffron party) continue to side with PM Modi, particularly as the INDI alliance candidate Ajay Rai hails from Bhumihar Brahmin caste, which has had history of being at loggerheads with the Yadavs in this region.

BJP President JP Nadda during campaigning in Varanasi.
Summer of discontent in the Hindi heartland

Realising that the INDI alliance candidate, the UP Congress chief Ajay Rai, is working particularly to create a dent in the loyal BJP voters among his own Bhumihar Brahmin caste, the ruling party pressed into action its union minister Giriraj Singh (a Bhumihar Brahmin politician from Bihar) into the upper-caste dominated Jansa area of Sewapuri assembly segment.

The same Sewapuri assembly segment, which houses Patel, Bhumihar Brahmin, Thakur and Brahmin voters also saw the UP CM Yogi Adityanath addressing a rally. The UP CM subsequently interacted with the lawyer fraternity of the city at the Ram Asre Vatika near the district court premises.

The union minister and the UP CM's rallies in Sewapuri assembly segment assumed particular significance as they happened just a day before the two star campaigners of the INDI bloc – SP president Akhilesh Yadav and ex-Congress president Rahul Gandhi – address a poll rally in support of the alliance candidate Ajay Rai in the same area.

Importantly, PM Modi had defeated AAP convener and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal by 3.71 lakh votes in Varanasi in the 2014 polls, when current INDI bloc candidate Ajay Rai stood a distant third.

In the 2019 polls, Modi's winning margin increased to 4.79 lakh votes against the first runner-up SP candidate Shalini Yadav. Congress candidate Ajay Rai again finished a distant third.

The BJP is targeting an at least 8 lakh votes winning margin for Modi in the June 1 election, for which it's particularly focussing on the two rural assembly segments of Sewapuri and Rohania.

There doesn't seem to be much scope to significantly increase the winning margin from the three urban segments – Varanasi South, Varanasi North and Varanasi Cantonment.

All these five segments were won by the BJP in 2017 and 2022 assembly polls.

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