Varanasi: Gujarat Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is up against Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal in Varanasi. But in the temple town, a 70,000 strong Gujarati community is quietly doing its bit to ensure Modi wins big.
Gujrati folk numbers in the narrow lanes of Varanasi may surprise many, but Varanasi residents have been hearing these songs for generations. Much before Narendra Modi announced his intention to contest from the town, Varanasi has been home to over 70,000 Gujaratis. For them, Varanasi is their home, but Gujarat is where their roots are.
"We have lived in Varanasi for 300 years, but we are Gujaratis. Narendra Modi's father Damodardas Modi used to run a tea shop here many years ago," said a Varanasi resident.
The Gujarati community in Varanasi is proud that Modi has chosen their city as his launch pad to the Prime Minister's office.
"There is a huge Gujarati community here, and we wish to see Narendra Modi do all the things he has planned for this place," said another Varanasi resident.
If one wants to taste 'fafra' and 'dhokla', the delicacies of Gujarat, one doesn't need to travel all the way to Gujarat. Benaras, for ages, has been having a mini-Gujarat, home to over lakhs of Gujarati families, who, over the years, have turned more Benarasi than Gujarati.
This cash rich Gujarati community controls the city's famous saree manufacturing and trading business. It is now doing its bit for Modi's election campaign. Public meetings are being organised and they have been reaching out to the predominantly Muslim weavers population to mellow down their anti-Modi tone.
"We are convincing all our Muslim weavers to not get influenced by all the anti-Modi comments being made. Muslims in Gujarat are now happy with Modi and it will be the same for Muslims in Varanasi," said a resident.
Gujarati kitchens are working over time to feed these election strategy meetings. The Gujarati community here says it will do its best to ensure Modi emerges victorious.