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Rajnath keen to contest polls

india Updated: Jun 11, 2008 01:32 IST
Shekhar Iyer

Halfway through his three-year term as BJP president, Rajnath Singh thinks that though Karnataka polls have delivered the best news in recent times, the party’s toughest challenge is in his home state, Uttar Pradesh. Also, his style of settling intra-party rivalries is ensuring that justice is done to all sides.

Singh says there is no better way he can enthuse UP leaders than by entering the election arena himself, as the BJP eyes the possibility of coming to power in the next Lok Sabha polls.

In the first disclosure of his plans, he told HT on Monday: “I want to fight the polls but I will abide by what our party decides. I cannot decide to contest by myself.”

Uttar Pradesh accounts for 80 of 543 seats. Mayawati’s BSP is seen as the most fancied party as it hopes to win a lion’s share of those seats. The BJP secured 25.31 per cent votes in 2002. This figure fell to 22.17 per cent in the 2004 general elections, and further to 19.62 per cent in the last assembly elections in May 2007.

The BJP chief said he had no particular constituency in mind. “It could be Lucknow, Ghaziabad, Aligarh or Mirazpur. I haven’t thought about it. But UP leaders tell me if I enter the fray, the message will go out that we’re not that bad as is made out and influence voters in nearby constituencies too.” If he gets to contest from Lucknow, it will be a prestigious fight. The seat is held by Atal Bihar Vajpayee, whose health has not permitted him to be active.

Singh said the BJP could not give up on UP, which is under the charge of Arun Jaitley, the party’s general secretary in charge.