Returning the compliment to Narendra Modi who had campaigned against him in Amethi, Rahul Gandhi today took out an impressive roadshow on the last day across Varanasi, where the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate is contesting.Starting his journey from a Muslim dominated Gol Gadda area, the Congress Vice President, flanked by party candidate Ajay Rai, waved to the cheering crowds while standing in his vehicle as his convoy travelled a distance of 12 kilometres in four hours.
Rahul Gandhi's maiden show of strength in Varanasi on the last day of campaigning was held in retaliation to Modi addressing a rally in Amethi on May 5 on poll eve where BJP's Smriti Irani is taking on the Congress leader.Rahul Gandhi's roadshow covered longer routes than those by Modi and AAP candidate Arvind Kejriwal, although in opposite direction.
He started from National Inter College and reached Lanka Gate after passing through busy areas like Maidagin, Beniabagh and Assi. He paid floral tributes at the statue of Madan Mohan Malviya at the BHU gate as the area was swarmed by Congress supporters.
He was helped by party men as he climbed a ladder to reach the pedestal. Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal too had garlanded the statue during their previous road shows."We are fighting to win. We are confident of out victory," said Ghulam Nabi Azad who has been camping here.
The family members of late shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan played shehnai during the roadshow. Earlier, the family had refused to become a proposer for Modi when he had filed nomination for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat on April 24.Rahul's payback roadshow came as campaign frenzy gripped Varanasi, which will go to polls on May 12 in the last lap of the nine-phase Lok Sabha elections.
A large posse of policemen surrounded Rahul's convoy as it moved with the flag-waving crowd in the streets of Varansi.With the sun blazing down, Congress supporters, many of them wearing tricolour caps, shouted slogans.
Rahul's roadshow was allowed in Beniya Bagh, where Modi was refused permission by the Election Commission to hold rally due to security reasons, prompting an angry reaction from BJP.
"It is blot on the electoral process where a PM candidate has not been allowed to hold rally in his constituency. Why were security reasons cited for Modi and not for the other leaders who are campaigning there?
"It is now clear that the permission was denied due to political reasons and not for security reasons," BJP leader Arun Jaitley said.Kejriwal yesterday led a massive roadshow from Banaras Hindu University Gate in Lanka area to Town Hall in Maidagin area, while Modi had drove through with his motorcade from BHU to Sigra a day before.
Rai has also got support from Muslim strongman Mukhtar Ansari's Quami Ekta Dal, although the two leaders have a long history of rivalry and have long been known as sworn enemies.
Congress has been trying hard to woo minority community, where Kejriwal is said to have made strong inroads.
Rahul did not address public during the roadshow, although a rally was scheduled later today in nearby Chandauli Lok Sabha constituency. Modi also has as many as five rallies today in the nearby constituencies.
Raising the poll heat here, SP leader and UP chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav also had one roadshow, while AAP leader Kumar Vishwas conducted one after Kejriwal's got cancelled.Other Congress leaders present in roadshow included Madhusudan Mistry, Nagma, CP Joshi and Raj Babbar, as also Congress candidate from here Ajay Rai.Congress supporters had begun assembling since early in the morning.