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All eyes on Varanasi in final phase of Lok Sabha polls

PM Modi greets supporters during his roadshow, a day before he files his nomination papers for the Lok Sabha polls, in Varanasi, on April 25. Photograph:( PTI )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India May 17, 2019, 11.27 AM (IST)

Varanasi in eastern Uttar Pradesh is gearing up for the battle royale in the seventh and final phase of Lok Sabha polls on May 19. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the sitting Member of Parliament, is seeking re-election from Varanasi.

Modi held a massive roadshow in Varanasi before filling his nomination on April 26 in which he said that he will come to the people again to thank them once the results are out.

In 2014, Modi won the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat, defeating Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal by a huge margin of 3.37 lakh votes. Modi had polled 5,16,593 votes, about half the total votes, while Congress's Ajay Rai finished third.

Rai is the Congress candidate again this time from the constituency that goes to the polls on May 19, while the 'gathbandhan' has fielded a Samajwadi Party candidate Shalini Yadav as its joint nominee.

Ajay Rai had previously been a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) before joining the Congress. He has also contested the assembly elections as an Independent candidate from Varanasi. In 2017 Shalini Yadav contested the mayoral election on the Congress ticket and placed second, with 1.14 lakh votes - the highest tally of a Congress candidate in any recent electoral contest in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bastion.

Apart from Rai and Yadav, there are 23 other candidates contesting against Modi this year.

The other constituencies that will go to the polls on May 19 in UP are Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Kushi Nagar, Deoria, Bansgaon, Ghosi, Salempur, Ballia, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Mirzapur and Robertsganj.