Modi wrests Varanasi from Joshi

They are going to contest from Varanasi and Lucknow seats respectively in the upcoming Lok Sabha election.

The party’s Central Election Committee (CEC) met on Saturday and after a marathon meeting declared the names of 55 candidates including the much-awaited seats of Modi and the party president amid much drama. Soon after the decision, a section of leaders raised their voice against the party’s decision to field Modi from Varanasi and Rajnath from Lucknow.

The party has, however, failed to release the list of candidates from Gujarat, which they will announce on 19 March. ‘It was an honour to contest from Varanasi,’ Modi tweeted soon after his name was announced.

The announcement had made BJP leaders Murli Manohar Joshi (Varanasi sitting MP) and three-time sitting MP from Lucknow Lalji Tandon visibly angry. While Joshi gets Kanpur, Tandon is likely to be accommodated to the Rajya Sabha. Many leaders have already started questioning the leadership of Modi and Rajnath. Sources said Joshi was miffed with a section of party leaders for not informing him personally and claimed that he learnt the change of seats from the media.  Currently, Congress leader Sriprakash Jaiswal is the sitting MP from Kanpur, which is considered a weak seat for the BJP. Kalraj Mishra is going to contest from Deoria.

The other BJP stalwarts are Maneka Gandhi, who is going to contest from Pilibhit, her son Varun Gandhi from Sultanpur, Uma Bharti from Jhansi, former Delhi CM Harsh Vardhan from Chandni Chowk who is going to contest against union minister Kapil Sibal, actor Shatrughan Sinha from Patna Sahib in Bihar. The Chandigarh seat will be contested by actor-turned-politician Kirron Kher. She would face former rail minister Pawan Kumar Bansal (Congress) and AAP’s Gul Panag.

Since the last few weeks there is rift among senior party leaders over various seats in Uttar Pradesh. Recently, Joshi refused to give up 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, Tandon hinted that he is ready to make way for Modi but not for Rajnath.

Arun Jaitley is going to contest from Amritsar in Punjab, where cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu is a sitting MP. Soon after the meeting, Sidhu said, ‘He (Jaitley) is my mentor. If he wants to contest from Amritsar then he is most welcome.’ However, he had made it clear that he will not contest from anywhere if not from Amritsar.

In Haryana, notable names include Rao Inderjeet Singh who will contest from Gurgaon and Om Prakash Dhankar from Rohtak. There were speculations that Captain Abhimanyu will get a ticket from Rohtak but his name was not there in the list.

Meanwhile, Varanasi erupted in a festive mood. Hundreds of BJP supporters gathered in front of state BJP office and blew conch shells, played Holi and burnt crackers out of jubilation as Modi’s name was announced. Supporters of Joshi were remained silent.

So far the BJP has announced a total of 302 candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, which is scheduled to be held between 7 April and 12 May. Earlier, on 27 February, the party has announced the names of 54 candidates and on 8 March it announced the names of 52 candidates. On 13 March, it released its third list of 97 candidates and on Saturday it announced names of 98 candidates.

Fifty-five names have been cleared on Saturday from Uttar Pradesh, seven from Delhi, two from Punjab, seven from Haryana, four from Orissa, 11 names from Chhattisgarh, two from Bihar, five from Uttarakhand, one from Sikkim, one from Chandigarh, two from Arunachal Pradesh and one from Anadman & Nicobar Islands.

Harsh Vardhan stands for Chandni Chowk, Lekhi from New Delhi LS seat

BJP has fielded its tallest leader in Delhi and state unit chief Harsh Vardhan from Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha seat. Vardhan  will challenge Congress’ Kapil Sibal and AAP candidate Ashutosh in a triangular contest.

Sitting MLA Ramesh Bidhuri from Tughlakabad will contest from South Delhi seat and Pravesh Verma, MLA from Mehrauli, will contest from West Delhi. The party has fielded three MLAs, including Vardhan, sitting MLA from Krishna Nagar.

Poorvanchal folk singer Manoj Tiwari will challenge Anand Kumar of AAP from North East Delhi while Mahesh Giri will contest in a triangular fight from East Delhi with AAP’s Rajmohan Gandhi. The party has fielded its national spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi from New Delhi and Udit Raj from North West reserve seat.

The party has repeated Mahesh Sharma, owner of Kailash Hospital from Noida, former Congress MP Rao Indrajeet Singh from Gurgaon, and Krishna Pal Gurjar from Faridabad.
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