A section within the Congress has floated senior leader Digvijay Singh’s name as a possible candidate against BJP PM hopeful Narendra Modi, in the event of the latter deciding to contest from Varanasi.
The Congress is also said to be looking for a strong local Brahmin leader, like Ajai Rai or Rajesh Mishra, in Varanasi, which has 32 per cent Brahmin voters and 21 per cent Muslims as well as for Lucknow and Allahabad just to counter what it perceives as the BJP’s excessive emphasis on the OBC-Rajput duo, Modi and Rajnath Singh, in UP and Bihar, sidelining Brahmin leaders from the Atal Behari Vajpayee era.
But sources close BJP’s Varanasi MP Murli Manohar Joshi claimed that the party workers are doubtful about Modi’s chances there, in case he is fielded from there. “It would be better if he sticks to Gujarat. There’s a view in the party why unnecessarily tie him to a new seat when he has to campaign all over the country?”
Meanwhile, a Congress Minister from UP, who is close to both Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi, told Express, “We may field a big celebrity from Allahabad.”
Madhusudan Mistry agreed that Rahul may pull off a surprise in UP. It should be noted that Rahul’s father and former PM Rajiv Gandhi had fielded actor Amitabh Bachhan from Allahabad against H N Bahuguna. But Rita Bahuguna Joshi and Raj Babbar too have to be accommodated. While Rita may be fielded either from Lucknow or Allahabad, Babbar may contest from Ghaziabad or Lucknow — depending on who the BJP fields.