In Varanasi, Modi Faces Record 77 Rivals


A Record 78 candidates are in the fray in the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat from where BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi filed his nomination papers Thursday. The large number of candidates is likely to force the Election Commission to use ballot papers instead of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for voting. According to the EC, as many as 38 persons filed nominations along with Modi. Varanasi Mahanagar president Tulsi Subramaniyam Joshi, too, filed his papers from the BJP as Modi’s substitute. UP Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha said the number of candidates in Varanasi may change after scrutiny of nomination papers, which will be held Friday and also after April 28, the last date of withdrawal of nominations. Sinha said an EVM can have a maximum of 16 candidates and a maximum of four EVMs can be used at one polling station. He said ballot papers have to be used if the number of candidates in a constituency exceeds 64. “Elections will become a tedious job in that situation, as counting of ballot votes would be manual and that may take upto 36 hours in a constituency like Varanasi,” said an EC official. There are 1,613 polling stations and 16.09 lakh voters in Varanasi. Polling is scheduled on May 12 here. Several unrecognised political parties are contesting and 33 candidates have filed nominations as Independents. In the 2009 Lok sabha elections, only 15 candidates were in the fray in Varanasi. In Gujarat’s Vadodara, the other seat from where Modi has filed his nomination, he faces seven candidates.