Varanasi polls: Narendra Modi to fight against 77 candidates

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Varanasi, April 25: The "battleground" of the temple town Varanasi is all set for an exciting contest on May 12.

The reason is not only that the holy city will witness a 'close contest' among the BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal and Congress' "son of the soil" Ajay Rai, but the fact that this time, 77 candidates are in the poll fray including three Narendras.

If Modi secures a win in tough battlefield Varanasi and BJP comes to power in the Lok Sabha elections 2014, then, he will be the first prime minister of India, who has faced 77 candidates in polls.

EVMs won't be used in Varanasi polls

While the Election Commission is yet to scrutinise the nomination papers, the current number of 79 candidates would mean that Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) cannot be used in the constituency.

At 79 nominations, this seat has seen one of the highest number of candidates from a single location in this Lok Sabha polls.

"EVMs can cater to a maximum of 64 candidates. In case the number of contesting candidates goes beyond 64 in any constituency, EVMs cannot be used in such a constituency. The conventional method of voting by means of ballot box and ballot paper will have to be adopted in such a constituency," the Uttar Pradesh Election Commission website has said.

If traditional ballot paper voting procedure is used, then the poll results can be delayed in Varanasi.

April 28 is the last day for withdrawal of nominations.

Know who are Modi's competitors in Varanasi:

Some of the candidates who are in the Varanasi poll fray against Modi are Sanjay Vashisth Brahmachari from Haryana, Mahendra Bhai Dikshit from Madhya Pradesh, Meraj Khalid Noor from Bihar, Prakash Pratap from Jharkhand, Narendra Sharma from Rajasthan, ShivHari Aggarwal from Kolkata and Johnson Thomas from Kozhikode.

These candidates from different states will try to reach out to Banaras/ Varanasi voters in an attempt to reduce "Modi wave".

While Narendra Nath Dubey Adig represents Jan Shakti Ekta Party, Narendra Bahadur Singh is contesting as Manav Kalyan Munch candidate. Another Independent contestant goes by his first name Narendra.

A majority of the contestants are from little known political parties.

Such entities include Agar Jan Party, Moulik Adhikar Party, Rastriya Insaaf Party, Gandhi Ekta Party, All India Pichhada Jan Samaj Party, Shoshit Samaj Dal, Sarva Samaj Kalyan Party, Nirmal India Party, Rashtriya Janwadi Party (Krantikari) and Pragatisheel Manav Samaj Party.

About 39 independent candidates have filed their nomination papers. Out of them, some along with their family members have assets worth crores of rupees, according to their affidavits submitted to the Election Commission.

Among the Independent candidates is one individual named Navratri who has disclosed that he is an employee of Sahara India.

Three 'Narendras' will also fight Narendra Modi in Varanasi.

Transgender Baseer Kinnar, 50, has also filed nomination from this temple town.

Professor Om Prakash Singh, a political analyst said that "this is the last desperate attempt of opponents against Modi to split BJP votes."

BJP's "cover- up" candidate for Modi

Besides Modi, Tulsi Shubramaniam Joshi has also filed nomination papers as a BJP nominee covering for the Gujarat Chief Minister which makes total number of candidates 79 in the Varanasi seat.

It is a common practice among political parties to make two individuals submit papers to ensure that there is a covering candidate in case one of the nominations is rejected.

A look at former prime ministers' opponents:

In 1988 general elections, V P Singh became country's seventh prime minister after facing 17 candidates.

In 1991, P V Narsimha Rao defeated 13 candidates against him and reached 7 Race Course Road.

The former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee faced 58 candidates in 1996 from Lucknow, 13 in 1998 and 14 in 1999.

[Also Read: Top contests of 2014: Narendra Modi vs Arvind Kejriwal vs Ajay Rai]

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