If his anointment as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate was on Friday the 13, the declaration of Lok Sabha seat for making a political debut at the Centre, the announcement came on Ides of March. Narendra Modi will step outside his pocket borough — Gujarat — to contest from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.
Modi managed to secure the seat after reluctance by former party president and sitting MP Murli Manohar Joshi to vacate the seat and shift to Kanpur. Joshi appeared to give in to intense pressure build up within the party by those favouring Modi. Party president Rajnath Singh too shifted to Lucknow to reach Lok Sabha. The decision on if Modi would also contest from
Gujarat will be made on Tuesday when the party’s central election committee is scheduled to meet.
Senior leader Arun Jaitley too decided to contest from Amritsar in Punjab to make his electoral debut, forcing incumbent cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu to say he will not contest from anywhere else, and would not “beg” for another seat. This would be Jaitley’s first Lok Sabha election, as he was till now a Rajya Sabha MP. The decision to field Modi from Varanasi would not only strengthen his image as Hindutva icon, without having to articulate the pro-Hindu line, but the BJP also expects that it could galvanise the cadre in the State which has the highest chunk of 80 seats in the LS. Though Modi’s announcement came ahead of Holi — celebrated with gusto in North India — it was part of the fourth list, thus exposing intense infighting in the party over allotment of seats.
Setting to rest all speculation the BJP on Saturday announced that its PM candidate Narendra Modi would indeed contest the Lok Sabha elections from Varanasi in UP, thereby hoping to shore up its prospects in the politically crucial state.
If BJP chief Rajnath Singh(Lucknow)and Modi managed to secure the seats of their choice, forcing out the old guard and incumbents to other constituencies, the other candidates in the BJP list, included names like Varun Gandhi (Sultanpur) and his mother Maneka Gandhi(Pilibhit).
Mercurial Uma Bharti will contest from Jhansi, while former Mumbai Police Commissioner S P Singh too has been fielded from Bhagpat, against RLD leader and Union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh.
Sitting Lucknow MP Lalji Tandon, who had to make way for Rajnath, did not feature among the names announced. It could mean that his name could figure in the next list or may be Tandon might well be rewarded with a Rajya Sabha seat.Kalraj Mishra, who had to give up Kanpur for Joshi, has been allotted Deoria.
After UP, all eyes were on the candidates for the seven Delhi seats.
The list sprang a minor surprise as new faces like ‘Art of Living’ guru Mahesh Giri was given the ticket from East Delhi and Dalit leader Udit Raj from North-West Delhi, while Meenakshi Lekhi would contest from the New Delhi seat represented by Congress’Ajay Maken. The BJP’s Harshvardhan has been pitted against Kapil Sibal from Chandni Chowk.