Varanasi, May 10 :
Surrounded by thousands of supporters, AAP candidate Arvind Kejriwal put up a show of strength here Friday, attacking his rival and BJP’s prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi.
Dubbing Modi’s display of strength a day earlier as a “drama”, Kejriwal claimed that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was determined to create history in the Lok Sabha election in this Hindu holy city.
Kejriwal’s roadshow also began from where Modi started out 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 the issue of Ganga aarti. “Don’t vote for such a man,” the AAP leader said on a loudhailer.
The reference was to Modi’s allegation that the Election Commission had prevented him doing Ganga aarti Thursday. The poll panel denied the charge.
Police and others estimated the AAP supporters at “a few thousand”. Aam Aadmi Party leaders said “several thousands” both from Varanasi and other parts of the country were part of the roadshow.
“We are confident that Kejriwal is going to win from here,” AAP’s Gaurav Tiwari told IANS.
“Wherever we go in Varanasi, we see support for Kejriwal. It cuts across religious and other divides. That is a good sign,” he added.
From atop his open van, Kejriwal shook hands with a throng of people trying to keep pace with him. A few offered him garlands. Hundreds peeped out of their houses and shops on both sides of the road.
Following him were a mass of supporters — on foot, covering all sides of the vehicle, as well as on dozens of two wheelers. Many waved brooms — the AAP election symbol.
Like at Modi’s show a day earlier, there was frenzied slogan shouting Friday too.
Bharatiya Janata Party leaders have publicly dismissed Kejriwal’s electoral challenge as a hiccup. The other main candidate in Varanasi is Ajay Rai of the Congress.
But Kejriwal has increasingly asserted that he is poised to defeat Modi, who is also contesting from Vadodara in Gujarat.
At Godowlia Chowk, a few thousand people waited to catch up with Kejriwal.
Varanasi votes Monday.
Zaheeruddin Ansari, a Muslim in his late 20s, said most members of his community Varanasi were determined to vote for Kejriwal.
“We are sick and tired of the Congress,” Ansari told IANS. “We need a change. And Kejriwal is the man.”
Earlier, TV artist Raghu Raman was allegedly attacked by unidentified people here Friday when AAP supporters were taking out a motorcycle rally ahead of Kejriwal’s roadshow.
Raghu Raman later said the attackers were chased away by BHU students.
On Thursday night, an AAP activist, Prerna, was injured on her forehead after stones were pelted on an AAP rally, police said.