Congested and crisscrossed by narrow and often dark lanes, Varanasi’s air is a mix of wood smoke and incense. The green-brown Ganges, the busy colorful bazaars, the morning bathers and the nightly oil lamps make this picturesque place a draw for tourists from all over. There’s a timeless quality in this northern Indian city, said to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.
But this month, the peace has been rudely shattered. Ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi decided to contest from Varanasi, and Arvind Kejriwal, chief of the newly-formed antigraft Aam Aadmi Party decided to take him head on, things in Varanasi have been as earthly as they can possibly be.
For the city’s 1.5 million voters, severely polarized on the basis of caste and religion, it’s going to be a tough call.
Varanasi is a bastion of Hinduism…
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