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Kejriwal to camp for a month in Varanasi

March 21, 2014 10:25 IST

Kejriwal to camp for a month in Varanasi

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Somesh Jha

After seeking public opinion, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal will stay in the holy city to understand local issues, says Somesh Jha

That Aam Aadmi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal is getting ready to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in the coming Lok Sabha elections is an open secret in the AAP camp.

The party is planning to go full steam in Uttar Pradesh's Varanasi constituency, where the electoral battle is to be played out.

Months before the city becomes witness to one of the most anticipated contests in May, Kejriwal is to head for Varanasi next week and seek "opinion" from the local people on whether he should contest the Lok Sabha elections against Modi.

And, he could stay in Varanasi for a month -- right up to the election -- holding road-shows and public meetings, going door to door to understand local issues and highlighting the "failed Gujarat model" in all assembly constituencies under Varanasi, according to party insiders.

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Somesh Jha

From April 10, Kejriwal is likely to station himself in Varanasi, which will vote on May 12, the last phase of the general elections.

"We are not going there to contest elections. We are going there to defeat Modi," Kejriwal had said at an event on Tuesday.

Kejriwal will hold rallies in the city for two days beginning March 25 and seek public opinion. However, party leaders suggest this could be only a formality - both Modi and Kejriwal are going to contest their debut Lok Sabha polls against each other.

AAP has already mobilised around 5,000 volunteers from various neighbouring constituencies, such as Allahabad, Azamgarh, Bhadohi, Jaunpur, Machlishahar, to set the stage for Kejriwal in Varanasi.

"These volunteers will go to people's doorsteps, distribute pamphlets, hold nukkad sabhas and inform people in the best possible way about Kejriwal's campaign in the coming week," said Abhishek Srivastva, member of a zonal committee in Uttar Pradesh.

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Somesh Jha

In the constituency, the party workers will do a "recce" of sorts and try to understand the local issues. These will be conveyed to Kejriwal, who will personally interact with people through his stay in the city.

According to a party source, Kejriwal will likely stay at Sarva Seva Sangh, an organisation that aims to spread the ideas, teaching and ideology of Mahatma Gandhi.

The former Delhi chief minister will be accompanied by the party's senior leaders and Uttar Pradesh incharge Sanjay Singh, besides Ram Dheeraj, who was also part of the Jayaprakash Narayan movement of 1974.

Even as the focus shifts to Uttar Pradesh, AAP also wants to ensure it doesn't lose its ground in Delhi. Before he heads for Varanasi, Kejriwal will hold daily roadshows in the seven constituencies of Delhi from April 1 to April 8, along with the party's candidates.

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Somesh Jha

The party has prepared constituency-specific slogans against leaders of other parties and planned to distribute pamphlets and affidavits of candidates to every household.

Before that, from March 28 to 31, the AAP convenor will travel in parts of Haryana along with Yogendra Yadav, the party's face in that state.

Party members are hopeful about Kejriwal's victory in Varanasi.

"We expect the result to be the same as it was in Gole Market (New Delhi Assembly seat) during the Delhi elections," said Nagendar Sharma, official spokesperson and media coordinator for Kejriwal.

Kejriwal's plans in the run-up to Lok Sabha polls

March 23-24: Holding rallies in Mewat and Gurgaon

March 25-26: Interacting with people in Varanasi and seeking their opinion on whether he should contest against Modi

March 28-31: Holding rallies in Haryana

April 1-8: Focusing on Delhi and NCR; roadshows in all seven constituencies of Delhi along with candidates

April 10-May 10: Travelling across Varanasi, holding public meetings and going door to door to understand local issues




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