How Modi became Varanasi ‘Putra’
On 25 April this year, the ancient city of Varanasi came to life like never before. The roads turned clean, the colour turned saffron, and the mood turned to palpable excitement. Those who wanted to go out on their daily chores wrapped it up early and began lining the streets, those who stayed at home finished domestic work and got all ready to stand in the balcony ready to catch the rare moment in history.
This was no ordinary day in the life of Varanasi and the only comparable analogy coming close to mind would be when Lord Ram returned home to Ayodhya after 14 years in exile. Sounds a bit far-fetched? Not, if you ask the common man braving the scorching 40 degrees plus heat. They waited for over two hours in the open to catch a glimpse of their favourite son-of-the-soil, Narendra Modi.
The people lining both sides of the road for over six kilometers weren’t waiting for the man they voted for in 2014 but the one they plan to vote for in 2019. He was now one of their own, and that’s some endorsement of faith, hope, and confidence in a candidate.
So, how did a true blue Gujarati from Ahmedabad transition into a Varanasi’s favourite ‘Putra’?
Ask the city locals, and most are unanimous in confirming the reasons: cleaner city; better waste management; no ugly overhead power lines; cleaner and better-maintained ghats.
For a city standing still for thousands of years, coming alive in just five is reason enough for an encore. For the people of Varanasi, payback time happens to be 19 May.
This is why Congress is confident of crossing the three-figure mark in 2019
Two senior Congress leaders, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, and Randeep Surjewala have asserted confidence in Congress winning three-digit seats and emerging the single largest party outside the NDA.
After five years in the political wilderness, extended bickering among non-NDA parties, and with four phases of voting over, it does seem a tall claim. Is it political bravado or a serious observation based on the factual ground assessment of mood and performance?
Their justifications come from post-voting feedback from party cadres across the country where the Congress contested, feedback received from other non-NDA parties and political realities as they exist in all states.
2014 was a disaster year for the Congress party touching a record low winning just 44 seats in the Lok Sabha and therefore not qualifying as Leader of the Opposition status. The BJP, on the other hand, created a record by winning an absolute majority with 282 seats, the only party to do so in 30 years.
As per the Congress leaders, 2014 was an anti-incumbency wave rather than a pro-Modi wave but five years down the ground situation has changed.
In 2014, Congress failed to win a single seat in the following states and UTs – Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, J&K, Goa, Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep, Gujarat, Nagaland, Puducherry, Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, Tripura, Odisha, and Tamil Nadu
After three rounds of polling, the Congress party asserts definite gains in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and Punjab. Most Congress gains come at BJP’s cost while BJP is not gaining seats anywhere except a few in West Bengal and Odisha.
If true, with three more rounds to go, it’s going to be an interesting election.
Opposition parties to decide on PM candidate post elections
Chandrababu Naidu laid all speculation to rest on who will be the opposition choice for Prime Minister till after the elections. He said the decision on PM would be taken after all non-NDA parties meet and discuss the options based on the results. He expressed confidence of the opposition coming together to form a non-BJP non-NDA government.
Is Rahul Gandhi’s NYAY message reaching the right people?
Congress president is banking on NYAY to see Congress deliver significantly better results in 2019. After four rounds of polling, the feedback was the message of the core benefit of the NYAY scheme was not reaching the right audience. The party has since taken several measures including using social media to generate awareness and benefits of the scheme.
Rahul Gandhi has been emphasizing the NYAY scheming in his speeches rather than on PM Modi and other issues; he had been previously highlighting. The question everyone is asking – are the voters willing to give Congress another chance?