BJP Flashes V; Ke­jri­wal will Win: AAP; Cong Con­fi­dent

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - AK­SHAY DESHMANE

As polling per­cent­age in Varanasi was set to touch 60% on Mon­day from 42.61% in the pre­vi­ous elec­tions, BJP claimed that its PM can­di­date Naren­dra Modi would get more than 60% votes even as the p a r t y ’s r iv a l s AAP a n d t h e Congress also in­ter­preted the higher turnout to their ad­van­tage.

“About 65% of the to­tal votes polled are in Modi’s favour and his mar­gin of vic­tory will be im­mense this time,” claimed Modi’s cam­paign man­ager Sunil Deod­har, who had con­ducted a pre-poll sur­vey in the con­stituency.

Deod­har told ET that as per the party’s as­sess­ment from the sur­vey and the additional in­puts from the work­ers on the ground, Ke­jri­wal would get 12-13% votes while the share of the Congress and SP would be less than 10% each. “Ke­jri­wal will be at a sub­stan­tial dis­tance on his sec­ond spot,” said Deod­har, who had ear­lier stead­fastly re­fused to ac­knowl­edge AAP con­venor Ke­jri­wal as the chief chal­lenger to Modi in the holy city. Over one lakh vot­ers were added to the elec­torate in Varanasi since 2009 polls, tak­ing the con­stituency’s to­tal to nearly 17 lakh this time. Team Ke­jri­wal rub­bished the BJP’s claims, with a se­nior mem­ber say­ing that the party chief would “pull off a win in a close con­test with a small mar­gin”. Nearly 80% Mus­lim and 40% mem­bers of the Pa­tel com­mu­nity have voted for Ke­jri­wal, as have the Back­ward com­mu­ni­ties in large num­bers, the mem­ber claimed. “The­me­di­aandBJPboth­pre­sumed that back­ward com­mu­nity votes, par­tic­u­larly the Pa­tel votes, would all con­sol­i­date be­hind BJP due to its al­liance with Apna Dal, but our feed­back re­ports from the ru­ral ar­eas show that 40% of those votes are in our favour,” said the AAP mem­ber. Sim­i­larly, Congress mem­bers said the party’s can­di­date Ajay Rai would win one lakh votes more than he did last time. “The pro­pa­ganda of Bhumihar and Mus­lim vot­ers go­ing against the Congress will be proven un­true on May 16,” said a se­nior mem­ber of Rai’s strat­egy team.

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