AAP fear may force Rajnath to shift base

 BJP president Rajnath Singh is reportedly planning to contest the next Lok Sabha poll from former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's parliamentary constituency of Lucknow.

Although the saffron party was yet to finalize the names of its prospective LS candidates from Uttar Pradesh, state BJP sources here said that Singh was mulling over to contest from Lucknow instead of Ghaziabad, the constituency he currently represents.

Singh, who was here to attend a function on Thursday, did not say anything in this regard, but speculations about Singh contesting from Lucknow gained momentum after he participated in the party's agitation against the UP government last month and had also courted arrest.

BJP sources said Singh's reported decision could be attributed to the phenomenal rise of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Delhi-NCR region.

“The AAP has a considerable following in the national capital and surrounding regions and it may create problems for the party,” said a state BJP leader requesting anonymity.

Lucknow is considered a safe seat for the BJP mainly owing to Vajpayee's association with it. Vajpayee's “political disciple” Lalji Tandon had contested from here in 2009 and won by a comfortable margin.

BJP leaders also said that Tandon could be sent to the Rajya Sabha in case Singh did contest from here. It was not immediately known if Tandon would agree to such a proposal.

Party sources said persuading Tandon to relinquish his claim to the seat might not be an easy task.

Earlier, Tandon reacted coolly to the idea of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi fielding himself as the candidate from Lucknow. “I have no such information,” he replied, when asked of reports that Modi was considering contesting from Lucknow.

A section of the saffron party feels that Singh may have a smooth sailing here while the going may be comparatively tougher in Ghaziabad. “The people of Lucknow have an emotional attachment with Vajpayee,” the leader said.

BJP leaders said that the name of the party nominee from Lucknow could be announced after Narendra Modi’s March 2 rally here. Sources also said that the process of screening of LS nominees has started.

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