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When Varanasi voted for the Communists and other interesting facts

BJP may have won 5 of the last 6 elections in Varanasi but this Hindu pilgrimage centre has had communist leanings in the past.

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Updated:May 5, 2014, 4:12 PM IST
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When Varanasi voted for the Communists and other interesting facts
BJP may have won 5 of the last 6 elections in Varanasi but this Hindu pilgrimage centre has had communist leanings in the past.
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The CNN-IBN Microsoft Election Analytics Centre is an interesting place to explore, more so when there is an interesting electoral contest in the offing. Varanasi, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, is witnessing a multi-cornered contest between BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, AAP's Arvind Kejriwal, Congress' Ajay Rai and 39 other candidates. But this in itself isn't a record for Varanasi. 47 candidates had contested for the seat in 1996. The fewest, 4, participated in the 1957 polls.

BJP may have won 5 of the last 6 elections in Varanasi but this Hindu pilgrimage centre has had communist leanings in the past. In 1967, SN Singh of the CPI(M) beat three-time MP Raghunath Singh by 18,167 votes. But this lone victory was no flash in the pan, the two leading communist parties - CPI(M) and CPI - registered a sizeable percentage of the votes polled in most of the elections until 1998 and were ranked second 4 times.

The saffron surge in Varanasi began in 1991 and was broken only in 2004 when the Congress wrested back the seat after 20 years.

The biggest margin of victory in all the Lok Sabha elections in Varanasi was scored by Chandra Shekhar (who went on to become the Prime Minister of India in 1990) by a margin of 1,71,854 votes (he received 66% of all the votes polled). The 2009 elections when Murli Manohar Joshi of the BJP scraped past Mukhtar Ansari of the BSP by 17,211 votes (2.6%) was the closest contest that Varanasi ever witnessed in Lok Sabha elections.

Explore interactive charts of past Varanasi results here.

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