VARANASI: The 25 km plus drive to Jayapura, the village adopted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he won the Lok Sabha polls from Varanasi, is neither swachh nor smooth for the most part. But it turns into a road closer to the village where the first persons we meet are a group of women sitting in the sun.

They are vocal, very like most of the men spoken to. And speak at length about the scarcity of water, how they have not got it despite promises, and are waiting for it still. But they say that there is electricity, there are bathrooms, but again go back to the water tank that they say was constructed a year ago but is not functional even now.

A young boy who joins us keeps interrupting to say that “Modi will win the elections”. The women laugh, saying he is too young to have a view on anything and continue with, “so many press people have come, they take photographs, they speak to us and go away, and nothing happens. We still do not have water.”

Development apart it is easy to see the politics behind adopting a village in Varanasi. It keeps PM Modi in the discourse, with several villagers here insisting that he would be winning these elections. It also legitimises his photographs along the route, interspersed albeit less frequently with an odd statue of Dr B.R. Ambedkar.

Jayapura is a tiny part of the Sewapuri Assembly constituency that falls in PM Modi’s Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency. And despite the basic support that is visible for him in the village he has adopted, it is clear that the sitting Samajwadi party MLA Surendra Patel is very much in the race. He is seen by many in adjoining villages as a candidate who has worked for the poor, and has been developing the roads and infrastructure of the constituency and Varanasi as the Minister of Public Works and Irrigation in the state government.

In Chandapur,the village adjoining Jayapura, the mood is different. Here the SP supporters are loud and vocal, insisting that Patel will win. There is support for PM Modi here, but for every group saying that he still remains a favourite, there is another for Patel and the SP. Asked if there is a wave for the BJP, all agree that this is not so. At least not as it was in 2014 during the Lok Sabha polls. So will the BJP win? Yes say some, No say the others.

Has demonetisation worked. Yes say some. No say the others. At a shop daily wagers say that life remains a struggle. And while demonetisation has added to unemployment, price rise has really hit the poor hard. And who has increased the prices? Modi, is the answer.

The youth in Chandapur have their own grievances with Modi, as he is referred to here. The adopted village has two ATMS, and a market like ours does not even have one, says a young man while others nod assent. He further adds that their village does not have any toilets. And strangely seems to blame PM Modi and not CM Akhilesh Yadav for this.

Interestingly Sewapuri is in the share of Apna Dal that is in alliance with the BJP. It is a Kurmi dominated seat, with both the SP and Apna Dal fielding Patels. While the verdict is anyone’s guess, it is true that in Varanasi there is a vote for the BJP that is more distinct than in parts of central and western UP. But at the moment, a week before this part goes to the polls it can be safely said that the fight for Sewapuri is directly between the sitting SP and the BJP with the silent voter holding the key to this election.