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Battle for Varanasi: AAP to focus on river, weaver and sewer

March 24, 2014 21:16 IST

In order to strike a balance between the diverse communities in Varanasi, the Aam Aadmi Party will focus on tree major issues -- river, weaver and sewer -- when it takes on Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

The issues are likely to be raised by AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal in his rally in the city on Tuesday, where he is expected to declare his candidature against Modi. The party will develop its campaign focusing on problems of river pollution, lack of development and the poor condition of weavers, mostly from the minority community.

"We are going to focus on these three major issues (river-weaver and sewer) in Varanasi during our campaign," party leader and UP in-charge Sanjay Singh told PTI.

Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency has five assembly segments of which three are urban -- Varanasi North, Varanasi South and Varanasi Cantonment -- while the other two Sevapuri and Rohaniya are rural. It is currently represented by senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi in Parliament.

Pollution of rivers is a major issue here and it has also found place in party’s local manifesto, which is being distributed ahead of Kejriwal’s rally on Tuesday. "Do we want Ganga and other rivers to be a source of clean water and life?" the pamphlet, which is being distributed, states.

"Varansai has been named after Varuna and Assi rivers. More than 15-20 sewer lines are emptied in Ganga at the Assi ghat. Forget drinking, the water is not even fit for taking a bath," said Rakesh Pandey, AAP’s coordinator in Varanasi.

The party is also focusing on the plight of weavers community.

"They have a lot of problems that need to be looked into. No one has been able to solve their issues," Singh said.

The weavers, almost all belonging to the minority community, are scattered in North and South Varanasi. The area has a population of around 1.5 lakh voters, which the party intends to woo. The city also has a small powerloom industry.

The party also intends to hit the BJP in urban areas, where it has a sizeable number of voters and is planning to take on the saffron party by raising the issue of development and the bad sewer system in the city.

"The city has a BJP mayor, MLA and MP, but still the new sewer system built recently is in a bad shape. This leads to problems during monsoon," said Pandey.

Party sources said that by addressing these issues, the party intends to attract voters not only from different communities, but also from varied social segments.

"We are trying to strike a fine balance by looking into these issues as it will hurt all the parties not only in urban parts of the constituency, but also the rural parts of Varanasi," said a local AAP leader.

Image: AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal boards a train to Varanasi on Monday at the New Delhi railway station

Photograph courtesy: AAP website

Prashant V Rangnekar in Varanasi
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