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BJP tennis visor, anyone? Varanasi is a land of political promotion

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Having traveled over the past two weeks through Mumbai and then Ahmedabad observing the Indian general election, I have been continually underwhelmed by the evidence I have seen on the streets of the various campaigns. That feeling ended immediately when I stepped off the train in Varanasi junction this morning.

Photo/Thane Richard

The walk from the station to the famous ghats on the Ganges is just about 5km and, for a viewer of the political landscape, the walk did not disappoint. I counted the following:

47 white Aam Admi Party caps. Roughly a third were worn by bike rickshaw pullers and the rest by random passersby. When I reached a major intersection near the ghats, it was hard to get an accurate count of the caps present, but about a half-dozen AAP volunteers manned each corner passing out information, cheering slogans, and raising brooms above their heads. In the time I was there, they were interviewed by a television news crew and handed out their materials to nearby police who stopped to listen.

2 AAP face and body painters. Down a random side street I ran into these two party loyalists.


Photo/Thane Richard
Photo/Thane Richard

14 BJP caps, 1 BJP t-shirt, and 2 BJP tennis visors. It seems the BJP has hopped on the AAP political fashion bandwagon.

Photo/Thane Richard

1 red Samajwadi Party hat. While not grabbing many headlines surrounding the Varanasi polls, this party has the third most seats in the Lok Sabha behind the incumbent Congress Party and the BJP.

Photo/Thane Richard

1 Congress cap and 1 Congress bandana wrapped around the wearer’s head turban style.

Photo/Thane Richard

3 bicycle rickshaws outfitted with Modi stickers.

Photo/Thane Richard

1 AAP campaign truck equipped with loudspeakers.

5 political billboards. 2 hoardings for the BJP, 1 for the Samajwadi Party, and one torn so badly it was tough to interpret, but looked to be for Samajwadi.

The final billboard was for Narendra Modi and was hanging behind the square dominated by AAP volunteers, a fitting juxtaposition of the two parties’ and their campaign strategies: canvas vs. grassroots.

Photo/Thane Richard

When I passed back through the intersection several hours later, the volunteers had not abandoned their posts. Quite the contrary, the setting of the sun and subsequent drop in temperature only bolstered their ranks.

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