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regular-article-logo Friday, 19 July 2024

Victory boast belies fall in margin: In Varanasi, PM Modi hails ‘historic verdict’

Modi’s victory margin has been drastically slashed by the electorate this time. He won by a margin of 3,71,784 votes in 2014 and by 4,79,505 in 2019. This year he bested his nearest rival, Ajai Rai of the Congress, by 1,52,513 votes

Piyush Srivastava Lucknow Published 19.06.24, 06:22 AM
PM Modi

PM Modi File picture

Making a boast that rang hollow around him, Narendra Modi thanked the people of Varanasi on Tuesday and said that they not only elected him their MP but also the Prime Minister of India for a third consecutive term.

"It is a great victory,” he proclaimed at a public meeting in Mehdiganj in the Sevapuri area of Varanasi on his first visit since taking oath a third straight time, “The people of Kashi (Varanasi) created a history by giving unprecedented mandate and electing me not only their representative but also the PM for the third term in a row.”

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Modi’s victory margin has been drastically slashed by the electorate this time. He won by a margin of 3,71,784 votes in 2014 and by 4,79,505 in 2019. This year he bested his nearest rival, Ajai Rai of the Congress, by 1,52,513 votes.

Before embarking on his speech, Modi electronically released the 17th instalment of the Kisan Samman Nidhi by pushing a remote button. About nine crore farmers get 500 per month (6,000 in a year in three instalments) under the scheme.

He also interacted with women of self-help groups. Later in the evening, Modi attended a Ganga Aarti programme at the Dashaswamedh Ghat and offered prayers in Kashi Vishwanath temple. “The country has given this mandate first time in the last 60 years. It is historic,” he said.

Jawaharlal Nehru is the only other Indian Prime Minister to have been elected to office thrice in a row.

Modi had expected to get almost all the votes cast in Varanasi and become the biggest winner in the history of Indian democracy by being elected with a margin of 10 lakh votes. He won by only about 1.52 lakh votes against the Congress’s Rai; at one point, early in the count, he was even trailing Rai.

That some voters of Varanasi had developed a distaste for elections after voting enthusiastically for Modi in 2014 and 2019 also reflected in the pattern of NOTA (none of the above) votes.

This number was 8,938 this time against 4,037 in 2019 and 2,051 in 2014. The disinterest of voters, even though they were supposed to elect someone whose subordinates in the BJP call him “the most popular leader in the world”, also mirrored in the voter turnout. It was 58.35 per cent in 2014, 57.13 per cent in 2019 and 56.57 per cent in 2024.

However, this didn’t deter UP chief minister Adityanath from calling Modi “a popular MP of Kashi (Varanasi)” and “the first leader in last 62 years to become PM of India the third time because of his popularity".

Unembarrassed by the disillusionment of voters in his constituency as he got about 61,000 fewer votes in 2024 than in 2019, Modi remained as boastful as before and reiterated, “Mother Ganga has adopted me.”

The PM is on a two-day tour of Varanasi.

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