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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.

BJP in overkill mode: Hyperbole overwhelms reality as party celebrates two years in office

from firstpost

BJP in overkill mode: Hyperbole overwhelms reality as party celebrates two years in office

Nothing succeeds like excess. This appears to be the guiding principle behind Prime Minister Narendra Modi's communication strategy. As minister after minister went about giving glowing accounts of th...


On 'vikasvaad' and 'virodhvaad': Modi says change has finally come to India

from firstpost

On 'vikasvaad' and 'virodhvaad': Modi says change has finally come to India

New Delhi: Celebrating second anniversary of his government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said a "change" has come in the last two years through good governance and vowed...

Rahul to Become Congress Chief at 'Appropriate Time': Kumari Selja

from ibn

Rahul to Become Congress Chief at 'Appropriate Time': Kumari Selja

Jaipur: Expressing confidence in the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, former union minister Kumari Selja on Saturday said that he would become the party chief at "appropriate time", while rejecting the "mi...

Honeymoon Period of NDA Government Over: Congress

from ibn

Honeymoon Period of NDA Government Over: Congress

Panaji: Congress on Saturday claimed that the "honeymoon phase" of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government is over and people have started questioning the Centre. "The honeymoon phase of Modi-led govern...

Modi's 56-inch Chest Not Reduced an Inch: Rajnath Singh

from ibn

Modi's 56-inch Chest Not Reduced an Inch: Rajnath Singh

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said that the "56-inch chest" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not decreased "an inch" and asserted that there should be no doubt on that score. ...

Why the BJP Continues Its Dream Run Even after Two Years

from ibn

Why the BJP Continues Its Dream Run Even after Two Years

Elections in India over the last few years have followed a similar pattern. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) marches on, the Congress retreats. It is only a few regional parties which have manag...

Why the BJP Continues Its Dream Run Even after Two Years

from ibn

Why the BJP Continues Its Dream Run Even after Two Years

Elections in India over the last few years have followed a similar pattern. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) marches on, the Congress retreats. It is only a few regional parties which have manag...