8:55 pm - Friday November 6, 2015

Mr Modi, Give Women Respect: Rahul Gandhi In Varanasi After ‘Payback’ Roadshow

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Rahul Gandhi meets top leaders, CMs For holds strategy session
Rahul Gandhi meets top leaders, CMs For holds strategy session

Varanasi: On the last day of campaigning in the world’s largest election, Rahul Gandhi stepped into Narendra Modi’s chosen poll battlefield, Varanasi, and targeted him directly.

“Modi ji please change your poster – say that you will respect women and stop sending the police or tapping phones of women in Gujarat. Don’t give them strength, give a little respect,” Mr Gandhi said, referencing “Snoopgate”, or the alleged spying on a woman by officials in Gujarat, the state Mr Modi has ruled since 2001.

The Congress leader’s roadshow and rally in Varanasi, from where Mr Modi is running for Parliament, was designed as payback after the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate campaigned in Amethi.

Mr Gandhi drove in an open-top car through Varanasi, from where Mr Modi, 63, is running for Parliament.

Congress supporters cheered Mr Gandhi’s convoy, throwing rose petals at him. Like Mr Modi had done weeks ago, the 43-year-old stopped to garland a statue of freedom fighter Madan Mohan Malviya who founded the Banaras Hindu University.

Mr Gandhi’s star turn in Varanasi is intended to telegraph that the Congress is not an also-ran in a contest featuring two of India’s most-talked-about politicians – up against Mr Modi is Arvind Kejriwal, the chief of the Aam Aadmi Party, whose strong performance in December kept the BJP from forming the Delhi state government. The Congress candidate is Ajay Rai.

Nearly 15% of Varanasi’s population is Muslim. The minority vote is expected to be split between the Congress and Mr Kejriwal.

Mr Modi drew massive audiences when he filed his nomination papers last month and drove through Varanasi again on Thursday after the Election Commission controversially disallowed his rally in the heart of the city.

Mr Kejriwal and Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav, the young chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, are also holding roadshows in the city.

Varanasi is among 41 seats that will vote on Monday, the last day of the national election.

Opinion polls show the BJP will rout the Congress to get the maximum seats in the national election.

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