Brisk polling in Varanasi, row over Congress candidate

Varanasi, May 12 (IANS) — Tens of thousands Monday voted in brisk polling in Varanasi, where AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal said his fight was only against BJP’s Narendra Modi and where the Congress candidate triggered a row by entering a polling booth with his party symbol pinned to his kurta.

With around 1.6 million voters, Varanasi went to polls in the last round of the 10-phase Lok Sabha election in the country.

On an average 10.38 percent voting was reported in the morning hours from the 18 Uttar Pradesh constituencies. But in Varanasi, from where BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narenda Modi is facing fierce competition from Kejriwal, 18 percent voting was reported in the initial three hours.

“It is not a triangular contest,” said a confident Kejriwal, referring to Congress’ candidate Ajay Rai.

“Ajai Rai does not feature anywhere. I feel it is a direct fight with Narendra Modi. And going by the change in the last three days, everyone is saying that Modi is losing,” Kejriwal told the media.

A controversy broke out when Ajay Rai walked into a polling station with the party symbol tucked on his kurta.

Election law bans the use of any party symbol within 100 metres of the polling station. Officials in the district say the Congress candidate had indeed violated the law.

Rai was accompanied by his wife and he spoke to reporters within 10 metres of the polling station, which again is a breach of law.

Senior officials told IANS that the returning officer had sought a video footage and that action would follow soon.

BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said in New Delhi that Ajay Rai had committed an “offence of the model code of conduct” and asked the Election Commission to take cognizance of the matter.

“Modi was speaking to the media with the lotus symbol beyond the prohibited zone of 300 metres, which is permissible. But the Congress candidate in Kashi was inside the booth with the ‘hand’ symbol. It is clearly an offence,” Prasad said here.

An FIR was lodged against Modi when he addressed a presser outside a polling station in Gandhinagar and clicked a selfie with the lotus party symbol in his hand.

Modi, who also contested from Vadodara in Gujarat, tweeted: “My special request to the youth – go out and vote and take your family and friends along to the polling booth.

“Today (Monday) is final phase of 2014 Polls. Urging all those voting in 41 seats across three states and assembly by-polls in West Bengal to vote in large numbers,” added Modi.

IANS 2014-05-12 13:38:03

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