Muslims constitute about 3 lakh votes in Varanasi,that used to be split between the Congress, SP and BSP in earlier elections.
Muslims in Varanasi seem to have rallied behind Arvind Kejriwal, turning in large numbers at several booths to back the AAP candidate against the BJP´s NarendraModi.
In a panic mode it was noticed that BJP office bearers forwarded smses to reporters in Varanasi that muslim clergy at the last moment had asked voters to vote for the Congress candidate Ajai Rai. “It was a move by the dirty tricks department of the BJP that was in jitters after large scale muslims turned out in favour of the AAP candidate”, said Anmol an AAP worker who had traveled from Delhi to Varanasi to campaign for Arvind Kejriwal.
Many first time voters at BadshahBagh flashed their inked fingers claiming that AAP candidate was the choice of the community in Varanasi. Muslims have some 3 lakh votes in Varanasi, which seemed to be voting en bloc this time for the AAP candidate. Also in BeniaBagh where Muslim women wearing the traditional Burqa were seen queuing up to vote for AAP.
Despite that the Congress depended on the Muslim vote this time and Rahul Gandhi put up a great show in the BeniaBagh locality yet community people agree that the fight in Varanasi was between Modi and Kejriwal. “It´s not going to be easy for Modi now,” said Abdul Ghani of BeniaBagh.
Muslims appear to have voted for AAP despite QuamiEkta Dal president Afzal Ansari repeatedly urging the community to vote for the Congress. With hopes that the community will vote for the Congress Ajay Rai had accepted the support of Mukhtar Ansari, the man accused of murdering his brother.
Though the BJP supporters confronted the idea yet meekly admitted that the contest was tougher than expected.Such admissions seem to mark a turnaround in just ten days as the BJP earlier had claimed that Modi would register the biggest ever Lok Sabha victory by a margin of nearly 6 lakh votes. Eeven in outer Varanasi where dalits constitute the majority of population people claimed that the “jhadoo (broom) was winning”.
While Kejriwal was expected to gain in urban areas, his penetration of rural areas marked by caste-based voting is considered significant. Even if he loses, Arvind Kejriwal will be known as the man who gave Modi a run for his money.