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Sulking Advani gets Gandhinagar, Modi camp gets another headache

Sulking Advani gets Gandhinagar, Modi camp gets another headache
The Central Election Committee (CEC) of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to field veteran leader Lal Krishna Advani from Gandhinagar constituency and not from Bhopal, which he wished to contest from. It has also announced Vadodara as another seat for its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi apart from Varanasi. The CEC, which has endorsed the parliamentary board’s decision, has reportedly angered Advani and his supporters. They see the move as a clear stand of Modi to dump the old guard, which many see as an anti-RSS move by its prime ministerial candidate.

Sources said Advani wanted to contest from Bhopal and not from Gandhinagar, a constituency he has represented five times in the Lok Sabha. But his wish was not granted by the CEC and his desire to shift from Gandhinagar is reportedly due to his ‘bitter’ relationship with Modi.

Advani is not on the best of terms with Modi after he opposed the Gujarat chief minister’s anointment as BJP’s PM candidate in 2013. On Wednesday morning, Modi himself called up Advani and requested him to contest from Gandhinagar seat. However, sources said Advani stuck to Bhopal. Party president Rajnath Singh also wanted Advani to contest from Gandhinagar, but Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan took Advani’s side and urged him to contest the general elections from Bhopal.

Eighty-seven-year old Advani has been the sitting MP from Gandhinagar for the past 16 years and speculations about his shift to Bhopal had gained ground ever since the BJP did not announce a candidate for that seat when it released its list for Madhya Pradesh.

Meanwhile, late on Wednesday night, Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari went to Advani’s residence in Delhi in a bid to persuade him to accept Gandhinagar.

Many leaders have already started questioning the leadership of Modi and Rajnath. Sources said Advani was miffed with a section of party leaders for not informing him personally about the change of seat and his close aides claimed that he learnt the official seat-change from media.

The other BJP stalwarts who got tickets are Hema Malini who is going to contest from Mathura. Sources said Modi himself wanted Hema to contest from the seat, where Brahmins and Jats play a decisive role. ‘Hema ji is a Brahmin and her husband Dharamendra is a Jat. This equation might click in the Mathura,’ sources said.

Interestingly, BJP president Rajnath Singh was also pushing hard to field his brother-in-law Arun Singh from the Mathura seat. Arun, a chartered accountant by profession, is currently the national executive member of the party.

Not the least, Shrikant Sharma, the media convenor of BJP, was also in the fray and wanted to contest from the same seat where Hema is going to contest from. Shrikant hails from Mathura.

Colonel Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore is going to contest from Jaipur Rural seat, former Congress MP Jagdambika Pal, who has joined the party on Wednesday, got ticket to contest from Domariyagunj in Uttar Pradesh and Heena Gavit, daughter of NCP leader from Nandurbar, Vijaykumar Gavit, is going to contest from Nandubar in Maharashtra.

Earlier, on 17 March, Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar had warned Vijaykumar of expulsion from the ministry and party if his daughter (Heena) contests the election on behalf of BJP.

Since the past few weeks there have been rifts among senior party leaders over various seats in Uttar Pradesh. Recently, Murli Manohar Joshi refused to give up the Varanasi seat for Modi. He reportedly had an argument with the party president, which was backed by Sushma Swaraj, who spoke in favour of Joshi. Similarly, Lalji Tandon hinted that he is ready to make way for Modi but not for Rajnath. However, both of them had to compromise and bowed down before Modi camp.

Arun Jaitley will contest from Amritsar in Punjab, where cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu is a sitting MP. A visibly annoyed Sidhu had made clear he will not contest from anywhere if not from Amritsar.

On Wednesday, the CEC released names of 67 candidates in its sixth list including 21 from Gujarat out of 26 constituencies, three from Bihar, two from Maharashtra, 21 from Rajasthan, 15 candidates from UP, and one each from Kerala, Jharkhand, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu respectively.
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