Campaigning in Varanasi - Mayank Gandhi on the ground

Varanasi was calling. It had become the centre of a battle of proportions that I had not envisaged. A battlefield of ideologies and in a way, a battle between money and power on one hand and passion on the other.

The election there is attracting people from all parts of India and from Maharashtra, hundreds of volunteers left their daytime jobs, to head to Varanasi and help in the campaign for Arvind Kejriwal.

Trains were sold out, and flights were expensive, but the pull was too strong. Some of us decided to spend a good bit of money and fly so we don't miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Many volunteers jumped into packed general compartments of trains, sleepless and excited.

On my flight, I found many AAP supporters, including some prominent Muslim opinion-makers who were on their way to assess the situation.

As I landed in Varanasi yesterday, it was as if there was electricity in the air. Porters, airline employees, and passengers welcoming all of us with a broad smile, hug and a thumbs up sign.

As we entered the city, we saw how Varanasi has become extremely polarised, almost an equal number of people wearing AAP And BJP caps. But there was a difference. The AAP volunteers were passionate, spirited, shouting like mad whereas BJP supporters seemed like paid volunteers just going through the paces.

There was no trace of Congress, SP, BSP on the streets. It seems as if it is a straight battle between Kejriwal and Narendra Modi.

In the last few days, the tide seems to have turned. Varanasi with its ancient tradition of tolerance and love seems to have had enough of excess of money power and in-your-face Modi advertisements. It seems like there is Modi Fatigue. The attack on peaceful AAP supporters by BJP thugs, has shocked voters and the peace-loving Banarsi babus.

Every chowk had these passionate AAP supporters distributing caps, and they waved out to Modi supporters who passed by on bikes or in cars.

There are 300 villages in Varanasi and AAP was the only one which was campaigning in them vigorously. As I write this blog, I am in a distant village in Rohanya meeting AAP volunteers for booth-level training. The stakes are high. The 16th will determine whether Modi will win or history will be made. more  

View all 8 comments Below 8 comments
An excellent report. Made me feel as though I am in Varanasi, cheering AAP. more  
Sudesh ji - Please give your assessment of on the ground happenings in Varanasi more  
Dear Friend

Many thanks for sharing the good news from Varanasi. Today's road show by AAP literally shocked BJP headquarters.

Now BJP may create any issue to postpone the Varanasi elections. I really don't understand why they are opposing against EC just because they have denied permission to hold rally on security ground? There was no provocation/frustration from AAP side when local administration refused to hold AAP rally on 23rd March. Instead AAP accepted to rally on 25th instead of 23rd March.

Today for the first time they (BJP) admitted that they are looking forward to get poet poll alliances with regional parties like TMC,BSP,AIADMK etc. That means they estimated and scared that NDA will not cross the magic figure of 272.

Dear Guys....

BJP and NDA alliance will not cross even 200 seats! Even if you add all the seats in the four BJP ruled states(Gujrath, MP, Rajasthan and Chattisgargh) it will come only 95. Add another 50 from UP and Bihar. Again add another 50 from the rest, including southern states (Karnataka,Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh) north, (Haryana,Punjab,HP,J&K), West and East Maharastra,Odissa,WB, Assam etc.) Still 5 short of 200.

In any case NM is not going to next PM. Let's see at the same time next Friday

Till then see you

John Scariachan more  
I am already in Varanasi to serve for the cause of people in Varanasi.

On Friday, May 9, 2014, Aam Aadmi Party <>

> more  
Insha Allah ( God willing).

On Fri, May 9, 2014 at 1:16 PM, Aam Aadmi Party <> wrote:

> more  
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