Varanasi, May 10 (PTI): Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday put up an impressive roadshow at Varanasi, stepping into the turf of Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate, just as Modi had done to Rahul at Amethi, the Gandhis’ pocket borough.
Starting his journey from a Muslim-dominated Gol Gadda area, Rahul, flanked by party candidate Ajay Rai, waved to the cheering crowds while standing in his vehicle as his convoy travelled a distance of 12 kilometres in four hours.
Rahul's maiden show of strength in Varanasi on the last day of campaigning was held in retaliation to Modi addressing a rally in Amethi on May 5 on poll eve where the BJP's Smriti Irani is taking on the Congress leader.
Rahul's roadshow covered longer routes than those by Modi and Aam Aadmi Party candidate Arvind Kejriwal, although in the opposite direction.
He started from National Inter College and reached Lanka Gate after passing through busy areas like Maidagin, Beniabagh and Assi. He laid wreaths at the statue of Madan Mohan Malviya at the BHU gate.
Congress members helped him climb the ladder to reach the pedestal. Modi and Kejriwal too had garlanded the statue during their road shows.
“We are fighting to win. We are confident of out victory,” said Ghulam Nabi Azad, who has been camping here.
The family members of late shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan played shehnai during the roadshow. Earlier, the family had refused to become a proposer for Modi when he had filed nomination for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat on April 24.
Rahul's payback roadshow came as campaign frenzy gripped Varanasi, which will go to polls on May 12 in the last lap of the nine-phase Lok Sabha elections.
A large posse of policemen surrounded Rahul's convoy as it moved with the flag-waving crowd in the streets of Varansi.
Rahul's roadshow was allowed in Beniya Bagh, a location denied to Modi for his rally, on the grounds of security.
On Friday, Kejriwal led a massive roadshow from BHU gate in Lanka area to Town Hall in Maidagin area, while Modi had drove through with his motorcade from BHU to Sigra a day before.
Rai has also got support from Muslim strongman Mukhtar Ansari's Quami Ekta Dal, although the two leaders have a long history of rivalry and have long been known as sworn enemies.
Congress has been trying hard to woo the minority community, where Kejriwal is said to have made strong inroads.
Rahul did not address public during the roadshow, although a rally was scheduled later on Saturday in nearby Chandauli Lok Sabha constituency. Modi also has as many as five rallies on Saturday in the nearby constituencies.