One fact is well known on the political streets of Allahabad that two of BJP's senior most Brahmin leaders from town, former Union Minister MM Joshi and five-time MLA and state party president, Kesri Nath Tripathi seldom see eye to eye even when they meet each other.
So, last week when Joshi came to campaign for Tripathi, who is the sitting MLA from Allahabad City (South), and shared the dais with him, even BJP supporters took it with large doses of salt. On the outside, the two leaders shared views and visions, but internally, party workers pointed out, unbridgeable differences have cropped up between two contemporary political leaders.
In the 2004 Lok Sabha election, Joshi lost from Allahabad. Many hint that one reason behind that loss was that a section of the local BJP unit did not work for his victory.
"Is it a coincidence that in 2004, many BJP functionaries including cooperators suddenly defected to the Samajwadi Party before the election. And equally ironically, most returned to BJP's fold recently without being punished for their defection. These include Anita Jaiswal, Vijay Arora and Ramji Kesarwani,'' said a former aide of Joshi, who has since moved with a breakaway leader who is a former CM.
Interestingly, another BJP worker pointed out that Joshi had apparently goaded many of his followers, including a former BJP district president, to join Uma Bharati's Bharatiya Janshakti Party when it was formed. And till the time, Uma, apparently at the behest of the VHP, withdrew he candidates, they were actively campaigning against local BJP candidates. "Some of them are continuing do so," said the former Joshi aide.
The rivalry between the two has a nearly three-decade old history. During the late '70s, Tripathi was an active senior functionary of the Jan Sangh in Allahabad. Joshi, meanwhile, had won the Almora Lok Sabha seat on a Janata Party ticket. "When BJP was formed few years later, Joshi was first nominated one of the general secretaries and then party treasurer. He moved up in the ladder of national politics but Tripathi remained mired in state politics,'' the BJP worker said, adding that he never managed to get an MP ticket from Allahabad despite having an enviable political record here.
But how will the differences between the two Brahmin leaders of BJP impact the Party's prospects in the ongoing election? Of the 11 segments in Allahabad, BJP has three sitting MLAs. Devaki Nandan Upadhyay, a BJP worker, said the situation does not look very good and BJP can be sure only of winning the Bada segment.
"Even Mayawati is trying to woo Brahmins. But the signals for BJP workers are not clear. Uma Bharati withdrew candidates, but there was no clear signal that her support is going to the BJP," Upadhyay said.
On their part, Joshi and Tripathi are confident that BJP would be able to form the government. But there are differences there as well. While Tripathi said in no uncertain terms that BJP would have no truck with SP or BSP, Joshi told a press conference that picture would only be clear on the day of the counting.