Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a roadshow for UP polls, in Varanasi district. (PTI Photo)
New Delhi/Guwahati/Varanasi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his roadshow in Varanasi Friday afternoon, drumming up support for BJP candidates ahead of the last phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections on March 7. Campaigning for this phase ends on Saturday afternoon. Mr Modi began the roadshow after garlanding a statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel at the Maldahiya crossing. It is due to close near the Kashi Vishwanath complex, where the PM will offer prayers.
In the Northeast, Manipur votes in the second and final phase Saturday for the 22 remaining seats, with both the ruling BJP and the Congress expressing confidence of having an edge on each other. While BJP state chief A. Sharda Devi claimed it will get at least 15 of the 22 seats, the Congress leaders claimed they are in a better position in the second phase. "We will get a minimum of 17 seats," said Congress’ Manipur in-charge Bhakta Charan Das.
The political atmosphere in the northeastern state has got surcharged as former Union minister and Congress’ state observer Jairam Ramesh accusing Rs 16.63 crores were paid to militant groups in Manipur in the run-up to the polls.
Alleging this was done to influence voters a day before the polling, Mr Ramesh told reporters in Imphal: "In a shocking violation of the model code of conduct, the Union home ministry and the BJP government in Manipur released Rs 15.7 crores on February 1 and a further Rs 92.7 lakhs on March 1 the banned militant groups. This has made a mockery of the elections in four districts."
In the second phase, 92 candidates, including two women, are in the fray across six districts. The BJP has fielded candidates for all 22 seats while the Congress is contesting 18 seats, the National People’s Party 11, and the Naga People’s Front and Janata Dal (U) 10 candidates each.
In Varanasi, the PM will wind up his visit on Saturday with a rally in Khajuria village, under Rohaniya Assembly seat, and will address people from five other Assembly segments under the Varanasi Lok Sabha seats.
Besides Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra landed in Varanasi on Friday and headed to the Phulpur middle school grounds for a rally after praying at the Kashi Vishwanath temple.