iconimg Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 04, 2014
Narendra Modi may contest the Lok Sabha elections from Gujarat as well as Uttar Pradesh.
This follows a fresh assessment by BJP strategists who feel that that their prime ministerial nominee's candidature from two states may boost local cadre, improve prospects of other candidates and help the BJP in its quest for 272-plus seats in the Lok Sabha.

The assessment comes as Modi completed the first phase of his election campaign in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar with rallies in Lucknow on Sunday and Muzzafarpur on Monday. Both states account for 120 of the 543 seats in the LS and are crucial for any party wishing to rule at the Centre.

A decision on Modi's candidature could be taken when the BJP's election committee meets on March 8, when the first list of candidates for UP is expected to be announced.

BJP strategists are keen that Modi contests from Varanasi — the nerve centre of eastern UP that is close to Bihar — as they feel it could electrify the mood in neighbouring Poorvanchal and parts of Bihar that together account for over 50 seats.

Key Modi aide Amit Shah, who is in-charge of UP, believes that Modi should accede to the demand of BJP workers to contest from Varanasi.

Party leaders said Modi might eventually exercise the option of contesting from both UP and Gujarat as he would not like to disappoint supporters in his home state who are "clamouring" for him to contest from there.

So far, sitting MP from Varanasi and senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi has been reluctant to give up his seat. But party insiders said fresh efforts were on to persuade him to shift to another constituency, like Kanpur.

Party sources said that Joshi apparently had no reservations about giving up Varanasi if veterans like LK Advani also gave up their old seats. Advani has already announced that he intends to contest from Gandhinagar, a seat he has been associated with for several years.

Modi's managers say he can contest from any seat in Gujarat, ideally Gandhinagar. But Modi is not keen on displacing Advani and may prefer Ahmedabad or any other constituency, any of which should be a cakewalk for him.