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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

Modi-Joshi feud takes centre stage in Varanasi

Pawan Dixit, Hindustan Times  Varanasi, March 07, 2014
First Published: 17:47 IST(7/3/2014) | Last Updated: 17:51 IST(7/3/2014)

Even before the voting takes place, there is a preliminaries of sorts going on between sitting Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Murli Manohar Joshi and party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi over the Varanasi parliamentary seat.
 
But it is of a different kind - much different from an internal referendum.

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Joshi is fighting against all odds to retain his candidature from the Varanasi parliamentary seat through posters and hoardings.

The Joshi camp has put up posters of the veteran BJP leader congratulating people on the festive occasion of Holi. While, the Modi camp is allegedly resorting to all possible tricks to create an anti-Joshi atmosphere in Varanasi.

The slugfest between the supporters of Joshi and Modi intensified further on Friday when a section of BJP workers carried out a signature campaign at busy the Godowlia crossing seeking support for Modi's candidature from Varanasi.

The campaign was carried out under the banner of Narendra Modi Army, an organisation formed by supporters of Modi.  

Rumours on Thursday about a fight between the supporters of both the leaders at the Assi crossing over the issue of putting up Joshi's posters is reportedly a part of cold-war between the Joshi-Modi camps in Varanasi.

The Joshi camp is holding Modi supporters responsible for spreading these rumours.

"There is a deliberate attempt by some sections of the party to create anti-Joshi atmosphere in Varanasi in order to convince senior RSS leaders about an anti-Joshi wave in the city," said a senior BJP leader not willing to be named.

In close party circles, the Joshi camp has even accused the party's national president Rajnath Singh behind the propaganda.

"No one has the guts to openly ask Murli Manohar Joshi to vacate the seat for Narendra Modi. Now, they are resorting to all possible tricks to portray Joshi's negative image. Such people have the backing of national president Rajnath Singh," said a senior BJP leader of the Joshi camp.

Joshi recently released a booklet listing the development work carried in Varanasi through the local area development fund allocated to him. It gave a detailed account of Rs. 19 crore spent by Joshi in his constituency.

The Modi-camp took potshots at Joshi's claims.

The high-voltage drama unfolding everyday in the saffron brigade has become the talk of the town not only in political circles but also among the masses.

Prof Kaushal Kishore Mishra, head of political science department at the Banaras Hindu University, says: "The ongoing political drama in BJP has catapulted Varanasi at the national level. Now, all focus has shifted to Varanasi due to Joshi-Modi feud over candidature from this holy city."  

The slug fest between supporters of Joshi and Modi would intensify further if the BJP delays formal announcement of party's candidate from Varanasi parliamentary seat.


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