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Will Namo’s road show in Varanasi be a gamechanger?

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the Uttar Pradesh government had been blocking all the efforts of the Centre to develop the state – to the extent of not allowing a Ring Road around Varanasi. The ancient temple town, he told the people, should be modern but at the same time retain its heritage, but the state government was not cooperating. “The Uttar Pradesh government is not letting my work show… it has not been able to utilise the funds given by Centre,” he said.

After a 5-km roadshow, the Prime Minister’s rally in Varanasi – the second in as many days – was held a day before the curtain comes down on campaigning for the seventh and final phase of the crucial election, in which the BJP hopes to wrest power from the ruling Samajwadi Party government.

Beginning his speech with a chant of “Har Har Mahadev” — a nod to the city’s ruling deity — the Prime Minister hit out repeatedly at the state’s Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance and the BSP. “Our mantra is ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas’ but the SP, BSP and the Congress believes in ‘Kuch Ka Sath, Kuch Ka Hi Vikas’ (development for only a few),” he said.

The Congress, SP and the BSP have alleged that the continued focus on Varanasi only betrays the BJP’s nervousness about the contests in the high-profile constituency, which elected the Prime Minister in the 2014 general elections. In 2012, the party had won only three of the five assembly constituencies that comprise PM Modi’s parliamentary seat. The Samajwadi Party had won the other two.

While admitting that the Prime Minister is taking a strategic risk by deepening his campaign footprint, the BJP said it stepped up campaign after Phase 4 of the elections as it plans to win 70 of the 89 seats that will vote in the last 2 phases.

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