Cong undecided on who will fight Modi

Cong undecided on who will fight Modi

 A fortnight after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced the candidature of its prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi from Varanasi parliamentary seat, the Congress is still searching for that perfect candidate who could challenge him.

Initially, Congress leaders indicated that the party would field a “celebrity” as its nominee and even drew parallels with Amitabh Bachchan defeating former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna in Allahabad.

Meanwhile, Congress leaders Anand Sharma and Digvijay Singh threw their hats in the ring declaring that they would take on Modi if the party wants them to. The case of Sharma was interesting as he has never contested a Lok Sabha election and has been elected to the Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan and not his home state of Himachal Pradesh.

Besides Singh and Sharma, the names of Congress veteran Janardan Dwivedi, AICC General Secretary Mohan Prakash or even Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were being speculated as possible challengers to Modi.

Now, it appears that the Congress is finally zeroing in on local leaders Rajesh Mishra or Ajay Rai to challenge Modi.

“Both (Rai and Mishra) are on the party’s shortlist of candidates for Varanasi,” a senior Congress leader said. He also indicated that one of the two could be the party nominee from the temple town.

While Mishra had won the Lok Sabha election from Varanasi in 2004, BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi had emerged victorious in 2009. Rai had contested the 2009 election as a SP candidate and polled more than 1.6 lakh votes. He is also considered to have a formidable clout among the Bhumihar population in Varanasi.

Quami Ekta Dal leader Mukhtar Ansari, who enjoys a Robinhood image in the region, is also in the fray. Ansari, who is in jail in connection with the murder of a BJP MLA, had lost to Joshi in 2009 by 17,000 votes.

In the 16-lakh strong Varanasi constituency, Brahmins and Muslims account for three lakh votes each, followed by Kurmi voters who number around two lakh. The constituency has 1.8 lakh Vaishya votes and 80,000 voters each from the Yadav and Dalit communities.

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