Sunday, May 3, 2009

Varanasi: Tough fight for MM Joshi; voters gratified

Other than the BJP, all three candidates chose the 'pleasure-gratification-route' to influence voters, last night. With upper caste vote split and administration allegedly helping Mukhtar Ansari, it is tough call for MM Joshi in Varanasi.

CJ: Arindam Roy, 16 Apr 2009 Views:485 Comments:0

SENIOR BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, who quit the Allahabad constituency in favour of Varanasi may find the contest tough. He is pitted against Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) mafia don Mukhtar Ansari, who is lodged in Kanpur jail. Varanasi goes to poll on the first of the five phases, on Thursday (April 16)

Political observers at Varanasi pointed out that on Wednesday night the BSP muscleman’s people were active all through the night. Flouting all electoral norms, wine and money flowed. The state government allegedly misused the administrative machinery. Police jeeps were reportedly pressed into service for distributing money to buy votes, in favour of the BSP’s backstreet tough.

Another source, on conditions of anonymity said that other than the BJP, all three candidates chose the ‘pleasure-gratification-route’ to influence voters. In select hotels, in the narrow alleys of the pilgrim city, ‘special arrangements’ were made. On being asked if women too were pressed into service, he smiled and added, “…anything that one could imagine was available,” without mentioning women directly.

Ajay Rai, the rebel Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA is contesting on Samajwadi Party (SP) ticket, while Rajesh Mishra of Congress is the sitting MP of Varanasi.

Politically, for Joshi, Mishra will eat into the Brahmin votes, while Rai too would erode some of his BJP votes, as he was from the saffron party before joining the SP. Rai will not get the Muslim votes, as they would vote tactically for the BSP candidate Ansari. Further, the district administration has allegedly thrown its weight behind the mafia don, as they dare not irk Mayawati.

Meanwhile, till 11.30am, voting was largely peaceful, barring stray incidents. At Sewa Puri, polling booth No 115, police force was called. At Pindara Block’s Khatura Primary Patshala only one vote was cast till 12 noon. According to available reports, voters on protest of no development had abstained from casting their votes. At Jagdalpur’s polling booth No 3, voting was disturbed by some elements, though it was not clear which political party’s supporters had caused disturbance. Force was sent at these two places as well.

Out of over 24 lakh voters in Varanasi, till 12 noon, about 13 per cent votes were cast, according to available information.


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