Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his election campaign in his parliamentary constituency of Varanasi by embarking on a roadshow from the gate of BHU on Saturday.

He will later address two election rallies at Jaunpur and Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth.

Apart from PM Modi’s campaign, the crucial Varanasi region will also see a slew of high-profile rallies by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and BSP supremo Mayawati on Saturday .

Security has been beefed up in the city and officials of the elite Special Protection Group (SPG) are camped in the city to ensure Modi’s protection.

The region has 40 seats spread across seven districts and BJP is facing a tough electoral battle in the Varanasi North and Varanasi South assembly constituencies.

The crucial Varanasi region will go to polls in the seventh and final phase of the Uttar Pradesh election on March 8.

Here are the live updates:

5:49pm: SP-Congress cavalcade reaches Pili Kothi area. Raj Babbar is seen accompanying Akhilesh and Dimple Yadav, and Rahul Gandhi

5:15pm: Congress workers with party flags try to crowd near PM Modi’s rally venue in Maidagin. Rahul and Akhilesh are expected to pass by too in some time

5pm: Supporters continue to throng the streetsto see the leaders pass by

Supporters of the Samajwadi party hold up banners of Akhilesh Yadav for the chief minister to see as he passes by in Varanasi (Sudhir Kumar/HT Photo)

4:35pm: Stone pelting takes place near Chauka Ghat as SP-Congress roadshow passes. Police step in and control the situation.

4:35pm: Akhilesh’s wife, Dimple Yadav, joins him and Rahul Gandhi’s roadshow in Varanasi

4:20pm: The SP-Congress cavalcade reaches Alaipura

A Congress supporter waves the party flag as the campaign bus passes by in Varanasi (Arun Sharma/HT Photo)

4:15pm: Rahul and Akhilesh are showered with flowers and are greeted by supporters lining the road

4pm: UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi tour the streets of Varanasi

PM Modi addresses a rally in Jaunpur

4:02pm: Modi concludes his speech, saying, “Bharat Mat ki Jai”

4:01pm: Akhilesh keeps talking about the Lucknow-Agra expressway. I tell him, why don’t seat your new friend (Rahul Gandhi) on your cycle and travel the distance between villages. Will he be able to?

4pm: Those who have robbed from the country must pay back. We will not rest until then

3:58pm: We will teach all ‘bahubalis’ (heavyweights) to fall in line and shape up the police system

3:57pm: This is why UP’s law and order is important for us. Over here, jail has also become a palace for ‘bahubalis’

3:55pm: When people do good, they say Gayatri mantra. But the SP-Cong alliance say Gayatri Prajapati mantri, Modi says referring to the state minister accused of rape

3:54pm: Are the sisters and daughters of UP safe? Who is responsible for this (state of affairs)?

3:53pm: We promise to fix your problems if you gift us an electoral win on March 11

3:52pm: We have given money, but it is just sitting there. The state government isn’t spending it on Jaunpur

3:51pm: Do you have electricity for 24 hours? The Centre has given money to afford electricity, but here in Jaunpur there is no electricity

3:50pm: Give us such a victory, give me such a gift that nobody can stake claim to UP. After five years, you can ask me what I have done for the state, and I will show you what I have done

3:49pm: I want the blessings of UP’s people

3:47pm: Poor mothers have been given freedom from the wood-fire stove

3:46pm: I have seen poverty. I was born in poverty. I was raised in poverty. So I decided for these poor mothers who struggle over the wooden stove, I would give these 5 crore people gas cylinders and connections

3:45pm: 150 villages in UP were in the darkness in the years since independence. We brought electricity to these villages

3:42pm: For 40 years our forces demanded One Rank and One Pension, but nothing happened. BJP govt delivered this

3:40pm: I’d like to ask the government which says work will speak for itself: Will work speak for them or will their scandals? says Modi

3:39pm: We implemented One Rank One Pension, Modi tells the crowd

3:38pm: The old government cheated the people with regards to One Rank One Pension, says Modi

3:37pm: Modi attempts to quieten the crowd. Says, “Bharat Mata ki Jai.”

3:33pm: I tell leaders immersed in politics, go to Jaunpur and meet the parents of those ‘shaheed’

3:30pm: Modi pauses as crowds cheer to a media camera covering the audience

3:26pm: For the safety of ‘Ma Bharathi’, even today people of Jaunpur are sacrificing their lives, says Modi

BSP chief Mayawati addresses a rally in Varanasi:

• The voters have to decide which party they will vote for — corrupt Congress or a party like BSP that has maintained crime and law and order situation in the state?: Modi

Akhilesh Yadav’s address:

PM Modi’s road show

2:20pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi performs ‘aarti’ at Kashi Vishvanath Temple. The PM will next leave for BHU helipad from where he will head to Jaunpur to address an election rally.

2:08pm: The roadshow which commenced from BHU gate at around 10: 50 am concluded at Bhairo Naath chauraha, in Maidagini area. 2:03pm: Modi reaches Lord Kaal Bhairava temple where he offers prayer to Lord Kaal Bhairava, also called Kashi Ke Kotwal. 1:45pm: Modi reaches Maidagini. In Bulanala , Akhilesh Yadav supporters shouted slogan “Akhilesh tum sangharsh karo, hum tumhare saath hai,” as PM Modi’s cavalcade passed through the area. 1:20pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi stops to offer prayers at the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi. 12:50pm: Modi reaches famous Dashashwamedh chowk. Large number of people seen on the streets when the rally passed through Muslim-dominated areas Sonarpua and Madanputa. 12:40pm: A very huge turn out of crowd on Kashi road. 12:35pm: Modi passing through Madanpur, an area largely dominated by Muslim population. 12:15pm: Congress- Samajwadi party supporters show up and wave their party flags at Bhadaini. They shouted slogans on Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi, Modi supporters responded with louder chants. 12 noon: Roadshow passes through narrow lane Assi area. Some foreigners are spotted in the crowd. 11:45am: The people of Varanasi gives a rousing welcome to Modi. His car is almost bathed in petals. Massive crowd throng the streets of Varanasi as PM Modi’s car passes through the city. (HT Photo/ Arun Sharma) 11:30am: Modi gives back garland to the crowd as he enters Assi area. 11:25am: The 5-kms long roadshow continues with supporters cheering ‘Modi Modi’ as the roadshow proceeds towards Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi. 11:20am: As Modi’s car continues to ride through the streets of Varanasi, locals shower flowers at him. BJP supporters flood the streets of the Varanasi. A BJP supporter dressed in an innovate headgear and attire sporting an image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 10:55am: Huge crowd gather on the streets to catch a glimpse of the Prime Minister. People seen on both sides of the road, some are standing on balconies and rooftops of buildings. At Ravidas Gate, the point from where the roadshow began, supporters raise slogans shouting ‘Har har Modi, Ghar ghar Modi’.

10:50am: PM Narendra modi began his roadshow from Ravidas Lanka gate, Varanasi. Travelling in an SUV, the roadshow will cover a distance of 5 kms and pass through Assi, Shivala, Sonarpura, Madanpura, Godowlia, Baansfatak Chowk and conclude at Gyanvapi. 10:35am: Narendra Modi will garland Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya’s statue in Varanasi.

10am: PM Narendra Modi arrives at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi.

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