Varanasi to witness big poll battle

Last Updated 18 March 2014, 19:20 IST

The temple town of Varanasi is set to witness an interesting electoral battle with the BJP’s Narendra Modi expected to face the giant killer Arvind Kejriwal. To add to the mix, the Congress said it would field a “formidable” candidate as well.

“The Congress will field a surprise, big bang candidate against Modi,” said Madhusudan Mistry, AICC general secretary in-charge of the central election committee.

“Let surprises remain surprises,” he said when asked whether the party was considering fielding a celebrity.

There were suggestions from a section of the Congress to put up a joint candidate against Modi in Varanasi, but these were brushed aside by the central leadership.

Putting up a brave front, AICC spokesman Randeep Surjewala said the Congress was the “only option” to fight communal and divisive forces and urged other political parties to back the party.

“Do not be surprised if Varanasi witnesses a similar spectacle as Ghaziabad from where BJP chief Rajnath Singh ran away after Congress fielded Raj Babbar,” Surjewala said.

Aam Aadmi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal had said in Bangalore over the weekend that he was ready to challenge Modi in Varanasi if the people of the temple town asked him to do so.

Congress leader Anil Shastri had suggested that the Congress, SP and the BSP should not field any candidate against Modi and allow Kejriwal to fight it alone.

However, there were few takers for the suggestion made by Shastri, who had won the Varanasi seat in 1989 as a Janata Dal candidate.

The Varanasi seat has witnessed a multifarious contest since the emergence of the SP and the BSP. Local Congress leaders Ajay Rai and Rajesh Mishra were the party’s probable candidates from Varanasi. But since the announcement of Modi’s candidature, the Congress leaders have been talking of grand plans to counter the BJP strongman.

AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh was also being talked about as a possible candidate. However, the Congress circles preferred to keep the name of Modi’s challenger under wraps.

(Published 18 March 2014, 19:20 IST)

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