iconimg Monday, August 31, 2015

Manish Chandra Pandey, Hindustan Times
Lucknow, March 12, 2014
Bharatiya Janata Party heavyweights in Uttar Pradesh, it appears, are not sure of their seats. Unlike in the past, when it tested the patience of second-rung leaders, the BJP has kept the big guns in the dark about their candidature this time. From party chief Rajnath Singh and prime minister nominee Narendra Modi to old warhorses Murli Manohar Joshi and Lalji Tandon, each seems to be ignorant about his fate.

Joshi, who was in Varanasi on Tuesday, and Tandon said they have started working in their constituencies but their supporters revealed the scene was still hazy.

The hype is largely about Varanasi (Joshi’s seat) and Lucknow (Tandon’s) where Modi and Rajnath Singh are tipped as frontrunners.

The fate of another veteran, Kalraj Mishra, is linked to Varanasi. If Modi contests from this seat, Joshi could shift to Kanpur. Consequently, Mishra would have to be move to another constituency, possibly Shravasti, from where Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) discard Daddan Mishra has staked claim.

The veterans have taken things lying down. Joshi, after blowing hot at the party’s central election committee meeting in Delhi, said he would accept the “party decision like a disciplined soldier” while Tandon said he would vacate Lucknow for Modi only.

 But Lucknow mayor Dinesh Sharma, known to be a Tandon-baiter, rooted for Rajnath Singh from the state capital. If the latter contests from Lucknow, BJP legislator Sangeet Som — accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots — could contest from Rajnath Singh’s Ghaziabad seat.

Tandon — Kalraj Mishra and Joshi too — share an uneasy relationship with Rajnath, which has served to heighten the suspense.

The resignation of Nand Gopal, BSP legislator from Allahabad, too has added to the discomfiture of BJP seniors. Gopal is expected to join the BJP and get a ticket from Allahabad from where veteran Keshri Nath Tripathi hopes to contest.

Uncertainty also dogs former chief minister and BJP vice-president Kalyan Singh who hopes to re-contest from Etah constituency despite opposition to his candidature.

The cases of former Congress leader Jagadambika Pal, former MP Vinay Katiyar, former state party chief Surya Pratap Shahi are no different.