UP election: Ahead of last phase polling, leaders take to road for final show of strength

On a whirlwind day in his Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi in eastern UP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi led a road show, offered prayers at two historic temples and paid tributes to Hindutva ideologue Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya even as 49 constituencies voted in another part of the state.

The streets of Varanasi were flooded on Saturday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the SP-Congress combine led by Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi descended on the holy city ahead of the final phase of voting for the state assembly.

On a whirlwind day in his Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi in eastern UP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi led a road show, offered prayers at two historic temples and paid tributes to Hindutva ideologue Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya even as 49 constituencies voted in another part of the state.RIVAL SUPPORTERS CLASH

The opposite camp was boosted by the presence of Akhilesh Yadav's wife and MP Dimple Yadav, who drew a huge applause. Hundreds of supporters wearing the SP's red caps and waving flags and banners with Congress party's 'hand' and SP's 'cycle' symbols lined the narrow streets.

The SP-Congress alliance's show of strength took off from Kutchery Chauraha and passed through Nadesar, Chaukaghat, Doshipura, Gol Ganj, Peeli Kothi, Maidagin, Chauk and Gudaulia. However, it was not smooth sailing as a clash broke out between SP and BJP workers with the two joint road shows jostling for space.

As the Rahul-Akhilesh procession reached Chaukaghat, with the two perched atop an open bus and a swarm of supporters marching on foot, SP workers came face to face with members of BJP which has set up a media centre nearby.

Tempers flared and workers of both parties started yelling and hurling stones at each other. The situation was brought under control as cops deployed along the route resorted to lathi charge.

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Earlier in the day, PM Modi too held a road show. BJP leaders believe that the hours-long event, broadcast live on most of the regional TV news channels, will help their cause when the 40 remaining seats go to the polls in the final phase on March 8.

The procession started from the Banaras Hindu University after Modi paid tributes to the statue of Malviya. People turned out in large numbers as the cavalcade moved at a snail's pace. "Subah Banaras, sham Banaras; Modi tere naam Banaras" and "Modi, Modi" slogans were raised by the supporters as he waved at them.

CONGRESS MOVES POLL PANEL

Modi later offered prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath and Kaal Bhairav temples, two foremost Hindu holy places in the ancient city. The PM slammed the opposition Congress and Samajwadi Party (SP) for "questioning the country's army and the surgical strikes" and called the SP "corrupt and good-for-nothing" and a party that has "scant regard for the safety of women" during a campaign rally in the evening.

Meanwhile, the Congress urged the Election Commission to book PM Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders for alleged violation of the model code by holding a road show in Varanasi without prior permission. The EC, on its part, has sought a detailed report on the issue from state poll authorities.

(With inputs from agencies)Also Read

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