Varanasi, Lustily cheering crowd of supporters greeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this holy city as he began his 8-km long road-show here on Thursday, a day before filing his nomination for the second time to seek re-election to the 17th Lok Sabha.
Braving a humid and hot weather, a sea of people turned up to welcome Mr Modi in this temple town as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party used the occasion to showcase its strength in the Prime Ministerial parliamentary constituency in the heart of Uttar Pradesh from where the party had reaped a rich harvest of Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 general elections.
Donning a saffron kurta and scarf, the Prime Minister was seen waving to the enthusiastic crowd which wanted to catch a glimpse of their star candidate. He began the roadshow from the iconic Banaras Hindu University (BHU) where he paid homage at a statue of Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, a freedom fighter and founder of BHU.
The Prime Minister’s roadshow is passing through a number of temples and ghats before culminating at the Dashashwamedh ghat on the banks of holy Ganga. Mr Modi will also attend the evening aarti at the ghat.
The entire top brass of the BJP, including party president Amit Shah, several Union Ministers and Chief Ministers, accompanied Mr Modi as the cavalcade meandered its way through the lanes of the ancient city.
The roadshow will pass through Lanka, Assi, Bhadaini, Sonarpura, Madanpura, Godowliya and end at Dashashwamedh Ghat.
After Ganga Arti at Dashashwamedh Ghat, Mr Modi will address a gathering of 3,000 people in programme ‘Sammelan’.
On the day of nomination, apart from BJP leaders, prominent leaders of other parties who are part of NDA will also be present.Prominent leaders of BJP allies who will be present include Bihar chief minister and JD-U chief Nitish Kumar, Shiromani Akali Dal leader and former Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal, Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
The main opposition party Congress has fielded Ajay Rai to contest against Mr Modi, ending days of speculation about the possible candidature of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra from Varanasi.
Varanasi goes to polls on May 19, the last phase of seven-phase general election.Notification for the last phase was issued on April 22 and the last date of filing nomination is April 29.Scrutiny will take place the next day on April 30. Counting for all phases will be held on May 23.