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Modi caste row heats up Varanasi
Cong wants his apology for triggering ‘neech’ debate
BJP hits back Kejri flays Modi ‘drama’ 
Tribune News service & Agencies

New Delhi/Varanasi, May 9
Rajneeti has descended with its full force on Varanasi, the holy city with over 1,500 years of history. And it’s a defining moment for Indian democracy, only four days ahead of Narendra Modi’s ultimate test at the ballot box. On the one hand are those who detest “neech-rajneeti” (as proclaimed by Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka). And on the other, is the flamboyant BJP flush with its presumed sense of victory. ‘Rajneeti’ is sought to be given a ‘neech’ (as in low caste) pedestal in the land of the Ganga, the all-purifier.

In the rage and rancour, today stood Arvind Kejriwal, who made it clear in his road show in Varanasi that those seeking political ‘moksha’ cannot possibly pass him by without noticing his Aam Aadmi’s audacious rejection of both the Congress and the BJP.

Kejriwal dubbed Modi's display of strength a day earlier as a "drama". Kejriwal's road show also began from where Modi started out on Thursday: the Banaras Hindu University's (BHU) main gate.

Speaking from an open vehicle during the many brief halts, Kejriwal accused Modi of "playing politics" on Ganga aarti. "Don't vote for such a man," the AAP leader said on a loudhailer. As the ‘neech’ caste debate focusing on BJP’s prime ministerial candidate intensified, the battle appeared for the caste votes in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Six constituencies in Bihar and 16 in UP will be at stake on May 12, the final phase of polling.

The Congress today stuck to its “Narendra Modi is a fake OBC” claim, asking the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate to apologise to all the backward classes for speaking about their caste in such a “lowly manner”.

Briefing the media, Ajay Makan, general secretary in charge of communications in the party, senior leader Vayalar Ravi and Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Arun Yadav slammed Modi for “disrespecting” the Constitution that bars discrimination on the basis of caste. “By saying all OBCs belong to ‘neechi jaati,’ Modi has hurt the feelings of the community,” Makan said. Not to be outdone, the BJP asserted that the caste its PM candidate belonged to — ‘Modh Ghanchi’ — was added to the OBC list in 1994 by a Congress government much before Modi became Gujarat CM. Senior party leader Arun Jaitley said if the Congress believed that Modi had committed a ‘paap’ (sin) by including the name of his community in the OBC list, then that ‘paap’ was committed by their own man, the then Gujarat CM Chhabildas Mehta.

In Delhi, Modi’s electoral battlefield Varanasi remained the centre of political discussions with the Election Commission admitting that delays in handling requests for Modi’s May 8 rallies in Varanasi should have been avoided. “We should have been prompt in conveying the decision of denial of permission to hold the rally. We should not have delayed our action. The delay is unfortunate,” Election Commissioner HS Brahma said. The EC has written to District Magistrate Varanasi Pranjal Yadav to send a report on why the delay occurred. 


Special observer for Varanasi
Lucknow: The EC has appointed senior IAS officer belonging to Tamil Nadu cadre Praveen Kumar as special observer for the Varanasi seat. Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha said Kumar has been asked to reach Varanasi at the earliest and remain there till the electoral process is over. —PTI

Poll panel says Modi rally request delay was avoidable
New Delhi: The EC on Friday admitted that delays in handling requests for Narendra Modi's May-8 rallies in Varanasi should have been avoided. Election Commissioner HS Brahma said: "We should have been prompt in conveying the decision of denying permission to hold the rally. We should not have delayed our action." The EC has also asked Varanasi DM Pranjal Yadav to send a report on the delays. — TNS 

EC notice to Rahul for anti-BJP remarks at Solan rally
New Delhi: The EC on Friday served a notice on Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to explain by Monday allegations of violating the poll code during his May-1 speech at Solan in HP. He had allegedly said 22,000 people would be killed in violence if BJP came to power. The EC also ordered further probe to ascertain whether Rahul violated the poll code by entering the EVM area of polling booths in Amethi.





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