Varanasi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday filed his nomination from Varanasi in the presence of NDA allies in a major show of strength.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Shiromani Akali Dal leader Parkash Singh Badal, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, AIADMK leaders O Panneerselvam and M Thambidurai and BJP leaders such as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari were present at the office of the district magistrate as PM Modi filed his nomination.
Modi, who addressed BJP workers ahead of the nomination, said the country was witnessing a pro-incumbency wave for the first time as he expressed confidence that the saffron party was set to return to power.
The prime minister said he had worked honestly for good governance and people have made up their minds that they want ‘Modi sarkar’ again. He added that the mega roadshow on Thursday was a sign that the BJP had won Varanasi.
“People across the nation are saying... Fir Ek Baar...?" Modi prompted. "Modi Sarkar," the workers chanted back. "Earlier governments were formed, but in the past five years, people saw a government run. I never said I am Prime Minister and denied anybody a meeting.
Among Modi's four proposers were Annapurna Shukla, an 81-year-old doctor who had known Madan Mohan Malviya as a child, Jagdish Raja Kashi, a Dom Raja member, who performs last rites at Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi, Subhash Chandra Gupta, who has been associated with the Jan Sangh and BJP for five decades and is considered the city’s most senior BJP worker, and Dr Ramashankar Patel, an agricultural scientist who has been honoured by the government for his research.
Modi will once again fight Ajay Rai of the Congress after the grand old party put to rest speculations of its eastern UP incharge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra locking horns with the Prime Minister from the seat. The Samajwadi Party and Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party have fielded Shalini Yadav, the daughter-in-law of a former Congress lawmaker.
During his nomination, Modi’s old aide and advisor Parindu Bhagat, also known as Kakubhai, was also present with him. Bhagat, an advocate by profession and a BJP-RSS loyalist, was with Modi when he had contested his first election in 2002 from Rajkot in Gujarat. When Modi won 2014 elections from Varanasi, Kakubhai had received the winning certificate from the District Magistrate.
Modi was also accompanied by NDA leaders like Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari , Amit Shah, Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray, JD(U)’s Nitish Kumar and LJP’s Ramvilas Paswan.
Earlier reports had claimed that a watchman would be among the PM’s proposers, a symbolic choice invoking his ‘chowkidaar’ campaign. A proposer must be an elector in the constituency the candidate is contesting from.
In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Madan Mohan Malaviya's grandson, Giridhar Malaviya, a retired judge of the Allahabad High Court and Padma Vibhushan winner Chhandu Lal Mishra, a noted classical singer of Varanasi, were among the four proposers of Modi from Varanasi.
Ahead of his nomination, Modi addressed a gathering of BJP workers where he said that the Varanasi seat was already won. The PM also visited the Kal Bhairav temple before filing his nomination.
Following Modi’s nomination formalities, BJP president Shah tweeted his gratitude to NDA leaders and called the moment a “historic occasion.” “I thank our NDA family for joining us on this historic occasion. Stronger NDA for a Better India,” Shah tweeted.
Modi had won from Varanasi by a huge margin, winning 5.8 lakh votes. The Aam Aadmi Party's Arvind Kejriwal came second with around two lakh votes. Ajay Rai was left with a mere 75,000 votes. Varanasi will vote on May 19 in the last round of the seven-phased poll. The counting of votes will take place on May 23.