Hindu Nationalist Leader “Modi” will pick Varanasi seat after winning both in LS Election

BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. PTII was on a television show which was covering Narendra Modi filing his nomination for Baroda. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate has also filed from Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh. The editor of Firstpost R Jagannathan was also on the show and he was asked which seat—Baroda or Varanasi—Modi would pick if he won both. Jagannathan said Modi would pick Varanasi.

This was because of the symbolism, given Kashi’s position as the seat of Hinduism. The BJP has long engaged the city and the Gyanvapi mosque, built in Kashi over a temple demolished by Aurangzeb in 1669, keeps returning to the Hindutva agenda. BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. PTI In representing Varanasi, Modi would also own the BJP’s revival in UP. It has come in third or fourth in recent elections and this will be the first time since its Babri and post-Babri period that the BJP will win the state. As MP from Varanasi, Modi will rightfully claim it is his victory.

This is all sound logic and it is quite likely that he will retain Varanasi and drop Baroda. Both seats have been with the BJP since 1991 except for one defeat (1996 in Baroda and 2004 in Varanasi) each to Congress. However, there the similarities end. Varanasi is a very fragmented constituency and its voting patterns are not predictable. A report in Deccan Herald by professor AK Verma said Varanasi had 16 lakh voters including 4 lakh Other Backward Classes, 3 lakh Brahmins, 3.25 lakh land-owning Bhumihars, Thakurs and other upper castes, 2.5 lakh Muslims and 1.2 lakh ‘others’ (Bengalis, Punjabis, South Indians).

Though the BJP has won it consistently, in 2004 Murli Manohar Joshi won the seat with only 30 per cent of the total vote. The margin he had was not even 20,000 votes. This is not a safe seat in that sense. On the other hand Baroda regularly delivers one lakh plus margins to the BJP and well over 50 percent of the vote, no matter who the candidate is. The Congress dominated Baroda through the Gaekwad family, but even there the BJP has made inroads. Modi took along one Gaekwad family member when he filed his nomination.

That is the reason Modi can make Baroda his pocket borough. In picking a seat Modi will have to consider more than just the election at hand. All South Asian dynasties have nurtured a place that will return them to parliament without difficulty. The Bhuttos have Larkana, the Gandhis have Amethi, Mujib and his family have Gopalganj, the Pawars have Baramati. This, as Jagannathan observed on the show, takes away one major distraction for the PM candidate and he can invest his time elsewhere. Modi famously has nobody to leave an inheritance to but even he needs a place he can contest without difficulty from. He is relatively young, at 64, and is likely to be around for not a few more elections.

The second aspect is that in keeping Baroda, there is a zone of influence which he can command. Meaning a block of Gujarati MPs, whose interests he will represent. This is unlike UP, which has its own caste and regional lobbies from which Modi is naturally excluded being an outsider. At the moment this is not a problem because he has united the party under his leadership, but who can tell what the future will bring? Even the Gandhis and the Bhuttos felt the need to nurture a place and Varanasi cannot be that place for Modi.

Other than the obvious linguistic and regional connections, Modi has another reason to prefer Baroda. The city has a large and powerful Marathi population because Gujaratis were conquered by the Maratha generals who came after Shivaji. Modi connects with the Baroda Marathis through his RSS links. His mentor Madhukarrao Bhagwat (current RSS chief Mohanrao’s father) spent years in Baroda building the Hindutva institution there. Baroda is the second most communally violent city in India (after Ahmedabad) and the Marathi population is quite active in this violence, taking it further towards the BJP.

Modi can keep the city for as long as he wants. I would not be surprised therefore, if he chose, despite the obvious attractions of Banaras-Kashi, to retain Baroda. ALSO SEE BJP banks on Modi wave in Mehsana to tame Congress Mathura: Hema Malini disappoints, but she can bank on the Modi wave In Firozabad, Mulayam’s nephew faces Modi heat RELATED VIDEOS AAP: ‘BJP goons’ are responsible for the attack on party workers in Varanasi Maharashtra is better than Gujarat, it is number one: Raj Thackeray Priyanka Gandhi defends husband, says Vadra used for political attacks.

Source: First Post