Joshi Tries to Paper Rift Over Varanasi Seat
A day after he reportedly questioned BJP chief Rajnath Singh over reports that his Varanasi Lok Sabha seat was being allotted to PM candidate Narendra Modi, party leader M M Joshi refused to be drawn into a controversy, saying a decision would be taken by the party’s central election committee on March 13. “The decision would be in line with the party’s poll prospects and prestige of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. The decision will be taken on March 13. Modi will also be present,” Joshi said. Taking questions from reporters during a meeting with farmers’ representatives at his residence, Joshi on Sunday said, “Every disciplined soldier goes by party decision.” According to reports, Joshi was offered the Kanpur seat in lieu of the Varanasi one from where he won in 2009.
Joshi, however, has been sticking to his demand of contesting his seat, despite Modi expressing a desire to make his Lok Sabha debut from Varanasi. Modi’s close strategists believe that if the Gujarat strongman was to fight from a seat outside his State, particularly from electorally important Uttar Pradesh, it would galvanise the local cadre and have a positive effect on the neighbouring constituencies in the State which has 80 seats. Reports of Modi getting his wish incensed Joshi who was left wondering as to how the decision could have been taken without the knowledge of the party’s chief election committee of which both he and Modi are members.
Modi supporters, meanwhile, have started a signature campaign and even put up posters demanding that the Gujarat CM be given the ticket from Varanasi. Joshi played down the “poster-war” saying, “It’s an old poster. It has been there for long. There is no poster war.”
Senior leader Sushma Swaraj too denied reports of rift and said the party was yet to take a call on UP seats.