'If an election could be won only by canvassing, then the AAP candidate will easily win. In canvassing they have let all the parties behind. They have met every voter in the villages many times and they have come from so far.'
A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com travels to the rural hinterland of Varanasi and finds that only the BJP and AAP are active here.
The Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party have all fielded candidates in Varanasi, but they are not visible on the streets. The streets in the city and the lanes in the villages have been taken over by volunteers of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Aam Aadmi Party who have come in from all over the country.
Varanasi has three urban and two rural assembly seats. Sevapuri and Rohaniya are the rural constituencies.
The road to Sevapuri is really bad, but this does not deter my driver who seems at home on bad roads.
The number of cloth shops in Sevapuri is amazing. The clothes come from Banaras. There is a Patel medical shop and the owner assures me that he is not from Gujarat, but a proper Banarasi Babu. Of course, Mr Patel is a staunch Modi voter.
The chaiwallah nearby also says he will vote for Modi. A customer chirps in, "If an election could be won only by canvassing, then the AAP candidate will easily win. In canvassing they have let all the parties behind. They have met every voter in the villages many times and they have come from so far. I am very impressed with them."
"But elections are not won by canvassing alone," declares the gentleman. "People make up their mind the day the candidate is announced and who will miss a chance to vote for a future prime minister?"
A farmer tells me that though there is a river about 3 kilometres away, the area has no water. They farm with the support of bore wells and water is at a depth of 100 feet. In the monsoon the water comes up to 80 feet. Drinking water is also from hand pumps.
The area does not have electricity for 10 hours a day and no one knows what time the electricity would return. "After the 12th (the day Varanasi votes) they may shut off the power for all 24 hours," says one farmer.
"All of Uttar Pradesh has a problem with electricity except Allahabad," says one resident. "There, they don't cut power because they are scared of the high court there."
Back in Varanasi city, I meet an autorickshaw driver waiting for passengers. He is very upset with Modi and Kejriwal, "They had the whole country to choose from, why us? The problems they have caused here."
"Every time I have to take a passenger anywhere their party workers are causing traffic jams. You know how much petrol goes when your engine is idling. The passenger pays for travelling and not for idling. I wish the damn election is over and we can go back to our lives."
Image: The venue of Narendra Modi's rally in Rohaniya. Photograph: A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com