Varanasi: The campaign for one of the most keenly-watched Lok Sabha seats came to an end here today on a note of bitter acrimony as the holy town turned into a key political battleground of roadshows, rallies and public meetings where rival leaders traded barbs.
Living up to its mythological history of once being the stage for a battle between Gods and Demons, Varanasi has seen key candidates Narendra Modi of BJP, Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Aadmi Party and Ajay Rai of Congress as also many other party leaders launching some of the fiercest attacks on their rivals.
Also in poll fray are Samajwadi Party, BSP, Trinamool Congress and many smaller parties as also a large number of independent candidates, adding to the total number of those fighting from this prestigious Lok Sabha seat to 42.
On the last day of campaigning today for polls on May 12, two major roadshows brought the city to a halt.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi held a 12-km and over four-hour-long roadshow in support of Rai this morning while UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav also came for a SP roadshow to seek votes for the party candidate Kailash Chaurasiya. AAP also held a roadshow and although Kejriwal could not join senior party leader Kumar Vishwas, who has taken on Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, led it.
Rahul’s roadshow was seen as a response to the one held by Modi in Amethi before May 7 polling there, which had broken an unwritten code of a top politician not campaigning in the political backyard of a leading rival.
Going by the size of crowds, Rahul Gandhi’s roadshow was huge and so was Akhilesh Yadav’s. Kejriwal had also held a massive roadshow yesterday that continued for over five hours before culminating in a public rally where he launched a scathing attack on Modi and also predicted the collapse of both BJP and Congress after the Lok Sabha election.
While Rahul didn’t address public in Varanasi, he attended a rally in nearby Chandauli constituency later in the day and there he hit hard at Modi who himself addressed five rallies in different nearby constituencies.