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How Amit Shah's 29,000 foot soldiers are working towards a Narendra Modi win in Varanasi

Thursday, 1 May 2014 - 3:15pm IST | Place: Varanasi | Agency: DNA

The BJP is leaving nothing to chance in Varanasi. Lead by "Team Gujarat", with BJP's UP in-charge Amit Shah heading it, the BJP is on an exercise to appoint 29,000 'Page In-charge (PI)' in the constituency in the next couple of days. "Amit Shah has already spoken on the theme of the PI to party workers. He has left instructions to appoint them asap," a BJP worker told dna.

Who is a PI? He or she will be the party's first and last rung of soldiers. At least two PI per booth will be appointed. The PI will be in-charge of a page from the electoral list. One page of the list has on an average 60 voters' names on it. That is, one PI will be in-charge of at least one page, and therefore called a Page In-charge.

What's the PI expected to do? His duty will be to get the mobile numbers of every voter on the page, call him up and touch base with him. On voting day he's expected to ensure that every voter on his page gets to the polling booth and casts his/her vote.

The idea is that every vote counts, and every one of those votes should preferably vote for Modi. Shah is vetting the PI list and he's told his team to hurry up and get the PI-list ready before Modi lands in Varanasi on May 5. Varanasi votes on May 12, and Modi is expected not to venture out of Kashi till the last vote is cast.

Other party heavyweights are also expected. Navjot Singh was in town on April 12 and on April 28, former party president Nitin Gadkari came along with bhajan singer Anup Jalota. More leaders will fly to the "city before history" in the next few days. These include cine star and BJP's Mathura candidate Hema Malini, party president Rajnath Singh, BJP's Amethi candidate Smriti Irani and it's Amritsar candidate Arun Jaitley. Former Army chief VK Singh may also come. So may Sushma Swaraj.

One high-profile acquisition that the party flaunted in Varanasi last week was Dharmendra Singh, who happens to the grandson of Raj Narain, the maverick socialist leader who defeated Indira Gandhi in her Rai Bareli bastion and gained international fame. Singh chucked a job with an MNC in Canada to come and campaign for Modi.

Meanwhile, the Congress and the SP have suddenly woken up to their own campaigns' ineffectiveness. The Congress is worried that its campaign lacks "teeth:" and that it was about time that the party went on the "attack mode" in Varanasi before it gets too late.

Congress candidate Ajay Rai, who has the image of a Robinhood in these parts, has sent an SOS to the party high command. He wants Nandan Nilekani to guide party workers to take on the high-tech campaigns of the BJP and AAP.

Rai has also asked the Congress high command to urge leaders like Salman Khurshid, Capt Amrinder Singh Beni Prasad Verma, Azharuddin and film star Nagma to campaign, which is now being planned and monitored by the high command, for him.

As for the Samajwadi Party, which has nominated a Brahmin to take on Narendra Modi, it sent 300 "tablets" to aid its workers to spread the word on the Akhilesh Yadav government's welfare schemes and how they have benefited the people of UP.

The exercise flopped, says a member of the party's youth wing, which in Varanasi is lead by one Raju Yadav. "You flip open the tablet and a film on welfare schemes of the government starts playing. The problem is the film is too long, 18 minutes and you cannot reverse or forward it. In the beginning it held interest but not for long," says the disgruntled youth wing member.

With the tablets failing to spread the word, the SP leadership has opted for special vans with LED screens to make a last minute splash. The first of the LED vans arrived in Varanasi on Monday. More are expected in the next couple of days.

Lastly, the AAP campaign is still all about distributing AAP caps and "Why I took on Modi?" pamphlets on the streets of Varanasi. AAP volunteers are working hard to leave a mark on the constituency. In Muslim localities the AAP cap gets more exotic with Muslim weavers lending it a Banarsi sari touch with gold and silver zari work. It glows in the dark.


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