A day after Yoga guru Baba Ramdev spiced up the electoral battle in Rae Bareli by suggesting firebrand Hindutva leader Uma Bharati as probable candidate against Sonia Gandhi, BJP leaders indicated on Thursday that actress-politician Smriti Irani could be fielded against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi.
BJP leader and actress Smriti Irani shows her marked finger after casting vote for the corporation elections in Mumbai. PTI/Santosh Hirlekar
A Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat, Irani is also the BJP's national vice-president who made it big on the small screen through the lead appearance in popular TV serial Kyonki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.
"The party is considering both the names – Uma and Smriti. A decision has to be taken. We have spoken to both the leader. A decision could be expected soon," a senior BJP leader said.
While Uma is apparently expecting the party to "compensate" her for taking on Sonia, Irani is understood to be willing to throw her hat into the electoral ring. "Modi's word on this will be final. He has not conveyed to us his opinion about Uma and Smriti contesting from Nehru Gandhi bastion."
The BJP had been toying with some big names as probable candidate, but hasn't been able to finalise on. It proposed to former Army chief gen (retd) VK Singh to take on Sonia Gandhi from Rae Bareli but he declined.
The last time BJP polled over one lakh vote was in the 2006 by-election, necessitated following Sonia's resignation after the office of profit row. Then, BJP's Vinay Katiyar, another face of the Temple movement, polled 1,61,290 votes. Still, he lost by a margin of over 2.5 lakh votes. The BJP candidate stood fourth in 2004 and third (in the absence of a Samajwadi Party candidate) in 2009.
Similarly, the BJP tried to woo 'sulking' Sultanpur MP Sanjay Singh – who belongs to the royal family from Amethi – with the idea of fielding him against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi. The Congress though managed to retain him by accommodating him in the Rajya Sabha from Assam and fielding his wife Amita Singh against Varun Gandhi in Sultanpur.