The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday challenged Azam Khan of the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh to pit himself against BJP general secretary Varun Gandhi in the Lok Sabha polls next year.
BJP spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak said the party was sure of Gandhi's ability to connect with the masses.
"That's why he is the youngest general secretary of the party," he said.
"Khan, who invariably gets his own party into trouble, isn't a patch on Gandhi. If Khan isn't convinced with the logic, he should contest against Gandhi."
Khan had recently attacked Gandhi over the controversy following his acquittal in two hate speech cases.
The BJP will up the ante against Khan further when it sends Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi's most trusted man Amit Shah to the SP leader's stronghold, Rampur, on May 29.
The party expects Shah's presence to bolster its jail-bharo stir to be held from May 27 to June 2. The idea, as a BJP source said, was to "test polarisation politics" by ensuring Shah's presence in Khan's backyard.
State BJP chief LK Bajpai, however, downplayed the "polarisation" strategy by saying that Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the party in-charge of the jail-bharo stir, hailed from Rampur and had sought Shah's presence there.
Bajpai said the BJP would put up a spirited show during the stir in Amethi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.
"About 10,000 BJP workers will court arrest in Amethi," Bajpai said.
"We want to remind Rahul that it won't be a cakewalk for him this time."
The BJP leader said the party cadre would court arrest in large numbers during the five-day stir.
"We have asked our cadre to remain prepared for a long stay in jail," he added.