In a calculated move, Congress General Secretary Uttar Pradesh (East) Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will hold a mega roadshow in Varanasi on May 15 in support of party candidate Ajai Rai.

Rai is a five-term MLA and had lost heavily to PM Modi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, losing his deposit.

Varanasi is the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from where he is the sitting MP and seeking reelection.

According to sources, the strategy behind organizing the roadshow is to portray Congress as the main challenger to the prime minister on his own turf since the opinion polls, psephologists, and political pundits are projecting the election here as a pushover for PM Modi.

Rai is the key candidate opposite PM Modi after the nomination of Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate Tej Bahadur Yadav was rejected by the Election Commission.

Priyanka’s mega roadshow is scheduled to begin from Lanka and terminate at Kashi Vishwanath temple.

Congress party is leaving no stone unturned to make it a huge success. According to sources, party leaders from various states are expected to be present in the roadshow.

Prime Minister Modi had filed his nomination from Varanasi on April 26, where, in a mega show of strength, he was accompanied by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) top allies to the Collectorate office where he filed the nomination papers. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Shiromani Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan were present during the nomination filing. Leaders of the AIADMK, the Apna Dal and the North-East Democratic Alliance were also present.

On April 25, in a prelude to nomination filing, PM Modi had held a massive roadshow in Varanasi.

Congress wants its roadshow to be at par with the PM’s roadshow, if not bigger, say the party sources.

Varanasi goes to polls in the final phase of the Lok Sabha elections on May 19.

(With IANS inputs)