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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Mukhtar Ansari to take on Modi in Varanasi

Pawan Dixit, Hindustan Times  Varanasi, March 26, 2014
First Published: 21:18 IST(26/3/2014) | Last Updated: 01:02 IST(27/3/2014)

A don and a yoga guru added a few hundred watts to two high-voltage fights in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi and Rae Bareli constituencies on Wednesday.

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A day after AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal joined the poll battle in the holy city, don-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari said he would contest the seat on a Qaumi Ekta Dal ticket.

Elsewhere, yoga guru Baba Ramdev suggested that firebrand Hindutva leader Uma Bharti take on Sonia Gandhi in the Gandhi family bastion Rae Bareli. The BJP has already announced her candidature from Jhansi in UP.

As a BSP candidate, Ansari went down fighting against Murli Manohar Joshi in 2009 by just around 18,000 votes. With his strong following among Muslims, Ansari’s entry could make the poll battle in Varansi acutely polarised.

“The public of Varanasi is with me. Let the elections take place and we will see,” Ansari said. He is lodged in Agra jail on charges of murdering a BJP MLA.

Hours later, Ramdev urged BJP to field Uma in Rae Bareli. “Why has it not fielded a strong candidate from Rae Bareli? I will go from house to house to campaign for Uma Bharti-ji. I will also organise rallies to campaign for her,” he said.

“A lot of people have told me that if the BJP does not field a powerful candidate, why don’t I contest against Sonia? But I have already taken a decision not to contest.”

The BJP was quick in responding. “Baba Ramdev is a respected figure. He has proposed something. The party will consider it,” BJP spokesman Sudhanshu Trivedi said. BJP sources said the party was willing to consider fielding Uma against Sonia, provided she was ready for it. BJP chief Rajnath Singh is expected to issue a statement on this.

However, Bharti shot down the speculation that she might contest against Sonia in Rae Bareli.


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