Prime Minister Narendra Modi filed his nomination papers for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat on Friday, accompanied by a galaxy of top BJP and NDA leaders in a massive show of strength for the country’s ruling alliance.
Bihar Chief Minister and JD-U chief Nitish Kumar, Union minister and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray and Shiromani Akali Dal patron Parkash Singh Badal were with Modi at the Collectorate as Modi filed his papers, seeking a second term in the Lok Sabha from the temple town.
BJP leaders, including party president Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and senior Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj, were also present on the occasion.
Four people proposed Modi’s name — former principal of the Banaras Hindu University’s women college Annapurna Shukla, ‘Dom Raja’ and ‘chief cremator’ Jagdish Chowdhary, from the family which lights every funeral pyre in the town, long time BJP worker Subhash Chander Gupta and agriculture scientist Ram Shanker Patel.
Patel has known the prime minister since he was Gujarat chief minister.
Modi touched Shukla’s feet in a gesture of respect. She later said she blessed him to continue with his good work and wished him all success.
Before reaching the Varanasi collectorate to file his nomination, Modi went to a temple to offer prayers.
The prime minister, who reached here on Thursday and brought life to a standstill as he held a seven-kilometre roadshow through the town, also addressed party workers in the morning.
The country, he said, is witnessing a pro-incumbency wave for the first time. He noted that the mood is festive from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and said party workers are the real candidates.
The prime minister said he had worked honestly for good governance and the people had made up their minds they want another Modi government.
“During yesterday’s roadshow here, I got a sense of the hard work of party cadres,” he said amid chants of “Modi Modi”.
Modi, who also participated in the “Ganga aarti” at the Dashashwamedh ghat, addressed a late night meeting here on Thursday. While the last five years were about his government making sincere efforts, the next five will be about results, he said.
Modi also laid stress on national security and said a new India gives a befitting reply to terror.
In 2014, Modi won the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat, defeating Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal by a massive margin of 3.37 lakh vote.
Modi polled 5,16,593 votes — about half the total votes — while Congress’ Ajay Rai finished third. Rai is the Congress candidate again this time from the constituency that goes to the polls on May 19.