The Modi and Muzaffarnagar effect have resulted in a scuffle for tickets among the BJP’s old guard and the younger generation in Uttar Pradesh. And the competition is so tough that a question mark hangs on whether the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and party chief Rajnath Singh would get to contest from seats of their choice.
Senior leaders indicate that Modi might just contest from Gujarat instead of the two seats the party was considering — Varanasi and Lucknow. Singh, who preferred a shift from Ghaziabad to Lucknow, may not get his wish either.
Former HRD minister and sitting MP of Varanasi, Murli Manohar Joshi, is unwilling to step aside even for Modi even though efforts are being made to persuade him to shift to Kanpur. And veteran Lalji Tandon, who won the Lucknow seat in 2009 and wishes to run again, said he is willing to vacate the seat for Modi. But he does not appear too willing to accommodate Singh. A similar impasse exists in Kanpur, where senior state leader Kalraj Mishra has staked claim.
The name of Singh’s son, Pankaj, is also doing the rounds as one of the BJP candidates from the state, perhaps Chandoli. But both the father and son may not contest the same election.
The party estimates its chances in the state as being good and no one is willing to miss the bus. The enthusiasm among the young leaders, though, takes the cake. First-time legislators, who thanked their stars after scraping through the assembly polls two years ago, are confidently queuing up for Lok Sabha tickets.
Most prominent among them are the “heroes” of Muzzaffarnagar — the four legislators who had been booked for their alleged role in the riots. There was even the first-time woman MLA from east UP, who went to the extent of distributing sweets in anticipation of getting the party nod.
And then, there are veterans like Uma Bharti, who are first-timers too, but only technically.
The party, though, is far from pleased. “While opinion polls do indicate favourable results, such mindless behaviour may mar our chances. What could be 50 seats may just be capped to 35,” said a senior leader.
But silence reigns about the riot-accused MLAs, among whom are veteran leader Hukum Singh, MLA from Kairana, Bhartendu Singh, MLA from Bijnor, Sangeet Som from Meerut’s Sardhana and Suresh Rana, legislator from Thana Bhawan. Barring Hukum Singh, the rest had been arrested. But after their release, the BJP had felicitated them at its Agra rally in November, just before Modi and Singh arrived.