Rahul Gandhi on Sunday claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may lose his Varanasi seat in 2019 General elections. But there is a condition. Gandhi said Modi will lose if all opposition parties fight unitedly against the prime minister.
The Congress president has not only challenged Modi to stand against united SP, BSP, and Congress but also said the BJP will win just two seats if the three parties come together.
At present, it is too early to predict what will happen in Varanasi in 2019. Two factors need to be looked into to analyze Rahul Gandhi’s predictions.
First, the opposition SP, BSP, and Congress are buoyed by the result of recently-held Lok Sabha by-elections in Phulpur and Gorakhpur. The SP-BSP combine had managed to shock the BJP in both seats. And both parties have announced they will contest together in 2019.
The Congress, which failed to save deposits in the by-elections, has not yet declared if it will fight in a three-party alliance including SP and BSP. Going by Gandhi’s word, Congress would likely tie up with the two regional parties or may back them by not fielding its own candidates.
Second, even if all opposition parties unite, winning the Varanasi seat will be an uphill task for the opposition.
In the 2014 General elections, Modi had won with 5,81,022 votes. Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal, Congress’ Ajay Rai, BSP’s Vijay Prakash Jaiswal and Samajwadi party’s Kailash Chaurasia had polled 2,09,238, 75,614, 60,579 and 45,291 votes respectively.
The combined votes polled by these opposition candidates was 3,90,722, still 1,90,300 short of what Modi got.
In 2019, Modi will be facing anti-incumbency but surveys have shown he continues to remain popular as the prime ministerial candidate.
In the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections last year, Modi had personally campaigned in Varanasi and his efforts paid off as the BJP and allies managed to win all eight assembly constituencies of Varanasi.
In the last four years, Modi has continued to remain in touch with his constituency by making several visits, even some along with world leaders.
Moreover, the Central and state governments have taken on several developmental projects in and around Varanasi. All of this will make it hard for even a united opposition to throw Modi out of Varanasi.>