Rajnath Singh tries to keep BJP house in order

Great Indian Battle: Leaders haggle for safe seats as parties poach candidates from rival camps

Rajnath Singh tries to keep BJP house in order

BJP president Rajnath Singh on Monday said even in his own case the central
election committee (CEC) would decide on where he would contest the upcoming polls.

Singh’s statement came in the context of rising tensions over seat selection within the party.

“I will stress that a decision even about me will be taken by the central election committee. No person can decide on the issue of the selection of candidates. I won't be able to say anything on this,” said Singh to reporters at the party’s headquarters on Ashoka Road in New Delhi.

Senior leaders from Uttar Pradesh, including Murli Manohar Joshi and Lalji Tandon, have expressed concern over having to give up their respective seats in Varanasi and Lucknow.

Within the BJP camp, it is believed that prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and party president Rajnath Singh would want to contest from these two constituencies.

Interestingly, while both the MPs are willing to vacate their seats for Modi, Tandon expressed reluctance to offer the Lucknow constituency to Singh, who is believed to have shown interest in moving away from Ghaziabad, where he is the incumbent.

Singh's decision to shift from Ghaziabad could be attributed to the phenomenal rise of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Delhi-NCR region, said BJP insiders.

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

Tandon said he would vacate his seat for Modi and work towards the latter’s campaign if required.

On Rajnath Singh's name doing the rounds for Lucknow, Tandon said he came to know of this from the media and the president had not spoken to him.

Tandon received support from Kalraj Mishra, a state-level BJP leader, who said that any decision in this regard should only be taken after consulting the former.

On Sunday Joshi eventually left it to the party to decide his fate after he tried to seek a clarification from Singh on news reports that Modi would probably contest from Varanasi.

However, Joshi had said to party leaders that sitting MPs should not be shifted. Instead, he proposed that Modi contest from Lucknow, which was once represented by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

CEC meet for crucial states

The next CEC meeting is expected take place on Thursday to finalise candidates for constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi - all important for the BJP. Some residual candidates would be announced in the list scheduled to come after Holi.

The party is also expected to take a call on Ram Kripal Yadav, a rebel from Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD, who attenoted to crossover to the BJP to contest the elections against his mentor’s daughter Misa Bharti from Pataliputra in Bihar.

Two senior Asom Gana Parishad leaders joined the BJP and another Assam outfit GJM pledged its support in West Bengal, bolstering the BJP’s chances in Darjeeling. BJP’s Jaswant Singh won from Darjeeling seat last time owing to their backing.

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