New Delhi: Varanasi, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi contests the Lok Sabha elections, all of a sudden found space in newspapers, not because of Narendra Modi, but his new opponent.
Prime Minister will go head to head against former BSF Jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav fielded by Samajwadi Party who was sacked from his job on grounds of ‘misconduct’. He had triggered a controversy by uploading a video showing poor quality food served to soldiers. The candidature of Tej turned to a lifeline for opposition in Varanasi, which was once written off by them.
Now the question before Congress is whether it willwithdraw their candidate to extend their support to the former BSF Jawan, and in effect the SP. The country is waiting for the answer as Congress candidate Ajay Ray has already filed the nomination.
Even though Tej Bahadur has no prior experience in politics, his courage to stand up against the corruption and the government's lack of care for the welfare of the forces, is a good weapon to take on Narendra Modi who ask vote in the name of ‘army’. It will also put the BJP in a tight spot, with Modi repeatedly harping on the soldiers and and he himself taking the credit for all that the military does.
SP who had initially fielded Shalini Yadav in Varanasi withdrew her to back Tej Bahadur Yadav who had regardless of party support had declared his candidature against Modi at any cost. If the Congress adopts the stance of SP and thereby strengthen the anti-Modi line up in Varanasi, that may tilt the campaign trend in the remaining phases of polling.
However, the failure of the Opposition to field a common candidate against Narendra Modi has been described as an example of opposition disunity and ego clash of leaderships. This was compounded by the decision of Priyanka Gandhi who was earlier expected to contest against Modi, to back out leaving the impression that the Congress could not resist Modi. A united candidate however can reverse such trends putting Modi and BJP more on the defensive. Hence the calls from opposition parties to Congress to withdraw its candidate and lend support to Tej Bahadur.