With a galaxy of allies and ministers by his side, Prime Minister Narendra Modi filed his nomination papers to contest from Varanasi in the national election, in which he is seeking a second term in power.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Shiromani Akali Dal leader Parkash Singh Badal, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, AIADMK leaders O Panneerselvam and M Thambidurai and BJP leaders like Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari were present at the district magistrate’s office as PM Modi filed his election documents.
Earlier today, PM Modi addressed thousands of party workers and visited the Kal Bhairav temple before his SUV made its way through narrow lanes to the office where he would complete the paperwork. People standing on balconies, rooftops and the roadside showered rose petals on him.
On Thursday, PM Modi took out a 7-km roadshow, waving at people from the sunroof of his SUV as he drove by ancient temples and ghats in the holy town on the banks of the Ganga.
The roadshow ended at the Dashashwamedh Ghat, where the Prime Minister attended the evening aarti on the banks of the river Ganga.
Speaking after the roadshow, the PM stressed on national security, saying the government had dealt effectively against terrorism. In an apparent reference to the Balakot air strikes after Pakistan-based terrorists killed over 40 CRPF soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama in February, PM Modi said the world now backed India in its fight against terror.
Facing PM Modi in Varanasi will be Ajay Rai of the Congress, who finished third in 2014. The Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party are fielding Shalini Yadav, the daughter-in-law of a former Congress lawmaker as the grand alliance candidate from Varanasi.
PM Modi had won from Varanasi by a huge margin, winning 5.8 lakh votes. The Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal came second with around two lakh votes. Ajay Rai was left with a mere 75,000 votes.
Varanasi votes on May 19 in the last round of the seven-phase national election. The counting of votes will take place on May 23.
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