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Varanasi turns into sea of saffron as Modi files LS nomination

What BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi achieved today in Varanasi was no less than a cult figure can possibly muster. Accompanied by a constantly swelling crowd of thousands, Modi's march to the office of the Varanasi collector to file his nomination papers, was an event unprecedented and unmatched to that of his rivals. Silenced were the voice who called him outsider as he succeeded in painting the temple city saffron with people from all walks of life willfully becoming part of the moment.

The rejoicing for Modi it seemed, was natural, as the city offered a rousing welcome to the BJP prime ministerial candidate almost akin to a victory parade.

 Varanasi turns into sea of saffron as Modi files LS nomination

BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi waves at supporters during a road show before filing his nomination papers in Varanasi on Thursday. PTI

From the look of it, people in large numbers in Varanasi believed that Modi was someone who could change face of the city and consequently their living conditions. The atmosphere was electric and the energy infectious enough to beat even the wildest celebrations of India's World Cup triumphs in the cricketing world. Some even resorted to fanciful apparels invoking the divine -- Shiva, Hanuman, Bharat Mata and Maa Ganga.

When a lady journalist argued with some in the crowd that Modi was no magician who could turn dreams into reality, she got a quick rebuttal from one of them, "Indeed he is not a magician who would weave dreams but a magician who unleashes development."

Buoyed by the unprecedented response, BJP leaders called this mass surge as manifestation of an electoral tsunami as the chants of—Har Har Modi—reigned the air again whether his political opponents like it or not. The response that Modi got was no less than the Kumbh. As people take a dip in the Ganges hoping for some divine intervention, the BJP prime ministerial candidate triggered similar sentiments albeit politically.

Added to the euphoria present in the chock-a-block streets of Varanasi was the large electronic media presence that beamed live images across the country. During his road show, Modi stopped at four places to garland the statues of Madan Mohan Malaviya, Sardar Patel, Bhimrao Ambedkar and Swami Vivekanand.

Though the BJP’s organisational machinery under stewardship of Modi’s trusted aide Amit Shah had worked hard, it was in all likelihood, people with no affiliation to any political party that made the event big. This trend might worry AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal and Ajay Rai of the Congress as they are pitted against Modi from the seat. On Wednesday, Kejriwal had put up a good show but he was nowhere close to Modi.

Minutes before he filed his nomination, Modi spoke to the media and tried to establish an emotional connect with the city by invoking mother Ganga. It is true that Ganga is an emotive issue here but with years of neglect there is a great deal of cynicism among the people of tall talks made by leaders on its purification. Modi used to a different pitch to connect.

"When I was made a candidate I thought I was being sent there by the party. But today I realise that I have neither come, nor sent but have been drawn by mother Ganga. I feel like a child who feels elated in a mother’s lap. May the almighty give me strength to do for Ganga what I did for river Sabarmati and proudly put Ganga and Varanasi on world heritage map," he said. Modi also drew a Shaivite connection between his native place Vadnagar in Gujarat and Varanasi. The BJP prime ministerial aspirant also made a politically significant connection between Baroda and Dalit icon Bhimrao Ambedkar. He also said that like the Muslim kite makers in Gujarat, the condition of the silk weavers of Varanasi can be improved through branding and globalised marketing. A connect between Buddhist Sarnath and Vadnagar was also drawn.

Modi’s strategists chosen four individuals to propose his nomination so that they could display broader social spectrum of Kashi’s cultural tradition – first by the grandson of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, founder of famed Banaras Hindu University Justice (Retd) Giridhar Malaviya; second by musician Dhanulal Mishra, third by a boatman community member Veerbhadra Nidhad and fourth by a weaver Ashok.

The choice of 24 April was guided more by strategic reasons than by astrological formations. It was last date of filing nominations for 12 May, the last phase of polling. By doing it today he will be accountable to Election Commission for his expenditure for less number of days and thus he would keep it to the minimum. Moreover, the date coincided with the sixth phase of polling for 117 candidates in 12 states including those in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Mumbai, Rajasthan and other places.

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Updated Date: Apr 25, 2014 07:22:18 IST