UP elections 2017: PM Narendra Modi visited Kashi Vishwanath and Kaal Bhairav temple in Varanasi
Varanasi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi started his campaign in the temple town of Varanasi today with a roadshow along the route to Shri Kashi Vishwanath temple and Kaal Bhairav temple. As 49 constituencies in the state voted in the sixth phase, Varanasi played host to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and Bahujan Samaj Party Chief Mayawati. The Prime Minister's Lok Sabha constituency, Varanasi is one of the closely-watched contests of the polls seen as a bellwether for the 2019 national elections.
Here are the top 10 developments of the story:
PM Modi arrived in Varanasi this morning and offered prayers at Kashi Vishwanath temple after a massive road show. He also visited the Kaal Bhairav temple before leaving for Jaunpur where he held an election rally. "UP's voters have already given majority to BJP. We will form government in UP, will waive loans of small farmers," he said.
"Unforgettable moments in Kashi. It is always special being here. My gratitude to the people for the affection. Truly humbled," the PM tweeted this afternoon. The Prime Minister is expected to hold two more election meetings in Varanasi - on Sunday and Monday.
Top leaders of the party and members of the Union council of ministers have been camping in the city to galvanise public support in favour of the BJP, which is aiming at a revival in the state where it had been in decline for more than a decade before making a dramatic comeback in the 2014 general elections when it won a stunning 71 Lok Sabha seats in UP, its best-ever performance till date.
The PM's road show was postponed twice last month and is now being held with two more days to go for campaigning in the final lap of seven-phase assembly polls.
A 10 km-long route was finalised by the district administration in consultation with the elite Special Protection Group (SPG) which provides security cover to both PM Modi and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.
Shortly after the Prime Minister's tour, started a joint road show by Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi. The Congress vice president had tweeted this afternoon: "Varanasi road show to begin shortly. Enroute will stop for darshan at Kashi Vishwanath temple."
The Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance hopes to cause an upset in three of the five Assembly segments falling under Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency currently held by the BJP. Fighting separately in 2012, the two parties had together polled more votes than the BJP in all the three seats, with the Congress finishing as the runner-up in two of these -- Varanasi South and Varanasi Cantt.
BSP chief Mayawati also held a rally on the outskirts around Rohaniya. "BJP and Samajwadi-Congress are competing for second and third places in Uttar Pradesh," she said.
Security forces have been deployed in large numbers to stand guard over the high-profile rallies.
The results of the elections, along with those in four other states, will be announced on March 11.