Narendra Modi's Varanasi show was an emphatic statement

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It was the sixth phase of the Lok Sabha election on Thursday and yet the focus during the peak hours of the day fell on BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who filed his nomination from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. Modi paid tributes to statues of leaders like Madan Mohan Malaviya, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Swami Vivekananda and then took part in a massive road-show that involved 2 lakh people before filing the nomination papers. His aide and BJP's in-charge for Uttar Pradesh Amit Shah said after Modi's departure that the Modi wave has now been transformed into a Modi tsunami.

Whether it is a wave or tsunami can be known only on May 16 but it is certainly clear that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has to cover miles before it hopes to match the organised politics of a cadre-based party like the BJP.

The mega build-up on an election day boosted BJP

Modi's nomination on April 24 and its execution were significant. First, unlike the fifth phase on April 15, the sixth phase is challenging for the BJP for the regions going to the election in this phase are not traditional strongholds of the saffron party. And Modi's filing his nomination from another state, electorally a crucial state, during this phase helps the BJP to project before various political camps about the leader's elevated image.

A massive push to Modi's transition from regional to national

The massive show of strength to boost Modi as a political competitor outside Gujarat was bound to send a strong message to other regional satraps like Jayalalithaa, Mamata Banerjee, Mulayam Singh Yadav or Tarun Gogoi who have not been successful to exhibit an equal show of strength outside their states so far. The crux of the story: The transition of Modi from a regional leader to a national leader received a huge push today at Varanasi and this could influence the outcome in the challenging sixth phase as well.

Paying tributes a strategic build-up

Another important part of Modi's nomination in Varanasi is his paying tributes to the leaders of the past and his party's strategy of bringing in people from across the society to propose his candidature. Paying tributes to Madan Mohan Malaviya, the founder of the Benaras Hindu University, connects Modi to the local sentiments (Malaviya's grandson Giridhar Malaviya proposed his name along with a boatman, a weaver and a classical singer) while paying respect to Sardar Patel cements his appeal as an administrator.

The massive non-polling turnout in Varanasi on April 24 suggested the mood

The tribute to Swami Vivakananda, on the other hand, establishes the Hindu appeal. All in all, the factors of culture, tradition and politics have been blended perfectly for Modi to reach out to the heart of Varanasi. The significance of this seat is several times more than that of Vadodara, from where Modi is also contesting, for it is a huge challenge for the BJP's PM nominee to assert himself as a national leader.

Kejriwal and AAP lack organised approach

His challenger-in-chief Arvind Kejriwal falls behind in this very respect. The AAP leader and former Delhi chief minister said recently that he has gauged the mood in Varanasi and is sure about Modi's defeat in the May 12 election. This is a big oversimplification from the AAP leader. And it has come perhaps because he has analysed polling in Varanasi just on go-to-the-booth-press-the-button formula. He has been attacking opponents, leading crowds brought mostly from outside and trying to strike a local chord by ruing the increasing pollution in River Ganga.

Even the breaking of the controversy over Shazia Ilmi's remarks on secularism at a time when Kejriwal is touring a crucial constituency shows the AAP's lack of seriousness. Henceforth, to expect that the AAP's bits-and-pieces efforts will match a more concerted move by the BJP to field Modi from Varanasi is just day-dreaming.

If politics is a serious business, AAP not in it in Varanasi

Kejriwal will be more than happy to contest an election for even as a loser, his resume will still be enriched because of undertaking a tough mission. But if we keep that aside and understand politics as a competitive discipline, the BJP's execution of Project Modi in Narendra Modi looks a far superior venture.

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