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The field has already gotten crowded in Varanasi, where the BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is planning to harvest a second seat in the Lok Sabha.There are already three serious candidates apart from Modi Arvind Kejriwal of AAP, Kailash Chaurasia of Samajwadi Party, and Mukhtar Ansari, a jailbird and head of the Muslim-dominated Qaumi Ekta Party and one non-serious BSP candidate, Vijay Prakash Jaiswal, who is not given any chance in the fight.However, if the Congress manages to pull off a coup, the field will get sparser.This has acquired urgency with Sonia Gandhi meeting the Imam of Jama Masjid and making an appeal to the minorities to avoid splitting the so-called secular vote. Though this claim has drawn an uproar of protest over her return to votebank politics, it has to be seen in the context of AK Antonys recent call to political parties for a secular front to keep Modi out of power.The Economic Times suggests that the Congress party is in behind-the-scenes negotiations to get Ansari and Chaurasia to withdraw from Varanasi, leaving the field clear for a strong Congress nominee to take on Modi. Kejriwal, it is assumed, will not be willing to play ball, but he may not make too many waves in Varanasi, where he has failed to make an impact so far. With his Delhi base under threat, he wont return to Varanasi till after 10 April.So, if the Congress move succeeds, it will end up being a straight fight between Modi and its nominee, with Kejriwal largely playing the role of spoiler.Will a straight fight help or hinder Modis victory?Of Varanasis 16 lakh voters, three lakh Muslims can be ruled out of Modis corner. Their votes will go to the Congress, assuming the other players withdraw or are bought off.The battle will be for the Brahmin (two lakh), Vaishya (3.5 lakh), and Kurmi, Yadav, Bhumihar and Dalit votes each with around one lakh each.The Congress strategy, if it is to succeed in making it a more-or-less straight fight, will be to get at least two of the three major non-Muslim groups to vote for it. It will thus field either a Brahmin or Vaishya candidate but Kejriwal is in the latter category. Ajai Rai, who is said to have a strong base in the Brahmin and Bhumihar communities, looks like a more likely choice.If the Congress succeeds in fielding a combined candidate, Modi has a fight on his hands.However, the one factor that no one is talking about is this: if there is a so-called secular consolidation, there could be a counter-consolidation too. In 2009, Murli Manohar Joshi squeaked through because it was noted that Muslims were voting in large numbers for Ansari.This time too all calculations based only on caste combos may go wrong. There is likely to be a significant polarisation by the time Varanasi votes on 12 May.

Delhi Lokayukta: Whats Arvind Kejriwal worried about?

from firstpost

Delhi Lokayukta: Whats Arvind Kejriwal worried about?

The Lokayukta for the national capital territory is a toothless institution. Its powers dont stretch beyond recommending action against individuals and bodies. If the authorities concerned refuse to e...


Vice President Hamid Ansari faces heat on social media for remarks

from ibn

Vice President Hamid Ansari faces heat on social media for remarks

New Delhi: The Vice President of India Mohammed Hamid Ansari is facing the heat on social media for his speech demanding an affirmative action for the Muslims in India. Addressing a function in New De...

High-level 'lift-stranding' probe panel may ask Amit Shah to step on weighing scales

from firstpost

High-level 'lift-stranding' probe panel may ask Amit Shah to step on weighing scales

BJP president Amit Shah could be asked to step on weighing scales as part of an ongoing inquiry.And unfortunately, this is neither the start of a laboured joke, nor a cruel jibe from Lalu Prasad Yadav...

High-level 'lift-stranding' probe panel may ask Amit Shah to step on weighing scales

from firstpost

High-level 'lift-stranding' probe panel may ask Amit Shah to step on weighing scales

BJP president Amit Shah could be asked to step on weighing scales as part of an ongoing inquiry.And unfortunately, this is neither the start of a laboured joke, nor a cruel jibe from Lalu Prasad Yadav...

PM Modi eating only one meal a day for Chaturmas

from firstpost

PM Modi eating only one meal a day for Chaturmas

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known for his strict eating rituals, and this time during Chaturmas, he is sticking to only one meal a day.According to the Hindu lunar calendar, Chaturmas is from 27 J...

Coming soon: AAP government's 'manifesto tracker' to obtain feedback from Delhi

from firstpost

Coming soon: AAP government's 'manifesto tracker' to obtain feedback from Delhi

New Delhi: The AAP government is mulling thelaunch of an online 'manifesto tracker' which will allow it toobtain feedback from the people about its performance vis-a-vis the promises made by the party...

RSS slams Hamid Ansari, says if Muslims want to be treated equally, they should demand equal laws first

from ibn

RSS slams Hamid Ansari, says if Muslims want to be treated equally, they should demand equal laws first

New Delhi: Vice President Hamid Ansari has found himself in the eye of a storm with his strong pitch to develop strategies to address issues of identity and security faced by Muslims in India. Ansari...