Overcoming protracted wrangling over seat allocation, the Bharatiya Janata Party announced that the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi would contest the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Varanasi while party president Rajnath Singh would be shifted from Ghaziabad to Lucknow.
The party leadership succeeded in persuading senior leader and sitting Varanasi MP Murli Manohar Joshi to shift to Kanpur. Similarly, another senior leader from U.P., Lalji Tandon, has had to vacate his Lucknow seat for his party chief. Both had been reluctant to do so.
Mr. Modi, however, may have to contend with Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal in Varanasi.
“Mr. Kejriwal is most likely to contest Lok Sabha election against Mr. Modi in Varanasi,” AAP’s member of Political Affairs Committee Manish Sisodia told The Hindu here on Saturday. “The PAC will take the final call,” he, however, added.
The announcements were made late on Saturday night after a marathon meeting of the high-power Central Election Committee, reflecting internal differences and rift among the top leadership.
Among the other prominent names who figure in the list of 98, of which 55 are from U.P., are the leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, Varun Gandhi from Sultanpur, Kirron Kher from Chandigarh, Shatrughan Sinha from Patna Sahib and Maneka Gandhi from Pilibhit. Party spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi will be the party candidate from New Delhi, while Rao Inderjit will contest from Gurgaon.
Mr. Jaitley, who has emerged as the chief political manager of Mr. Modi, will be trying his luck from Amritsar. It will be the first ever Lok Sabha election for Mr. Jaitley.
Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu was persuaded to give up his Amritsar seat for Mr Jaitley. A visibly upset Mr. Sidhu, a three-time MP of the party, said he would not contest from anywhere else but later softened his stand.