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Kumar Vishwas dares Modi to contest from Amethi

Nagendar Sharma, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 29, 2013
First Published: 20:43 IST(29/12/2013) | Last Updated: 00:54 IST(30/12/2013)

The Aam Aadmi Party for the first time on Sunday directly took on BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and dared him to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Amethi - Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's seat.

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AAP leader Kumar Vishwas confirmed his candidature from Amethi and challenged the Gujarat chief minister to try his luck from the Lok Sabha constituency in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

"I am going to contest from Amethi and Mr Modi who devotes a lot of time in his speeches to the Congress shehzada should accept the challenge of contesting from there because mere words and speeches won't end dynastic politics," Vishwas said.

Modi had been mocking Gandhi as shehzada (prince) in rallies earlier, but has not used the word in recent speeches.

Vishwas, a key AAP campaigner, said if Modi was unwilling, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh or his predecessor Nitin Gadkari could accept the challenge.

This is a clear strategic shift from the AAP. The party had refrained from attacking Modi in the run-up to the Delhi assembly elections because its internal surveys had shown that nearly 30% of its own voters wanted to see the BJP leader as PM.

Following its impressive performance in the Delhi elections and having formed the government, the AAP now seems to have shed its inhibitions about Modi. By attacking the BJP mascot, it also appears to be making an attempt to reach out to voters opposed to the saffron party outside the capital.

The AAP's calculations are based on the argument that it can provide an option to the traditional anti-BJP voters, particularly among the minorities who are not keen on voting for the Congress.  

During the Delhi elections campaign, AAP's star campaigner Arvind Kejriwal had maintained that even Modi would not be able to turn around the BJP's fortunes and suggested that the Gujarat CM should not waste his time.

Kejriwal had also chosen to ignore Modi's personal attack on him during the last days of campaigning, when the BJP leader had charged him with having backstabbed Anna Hazare.

Modi had held rallies in Delhi and the BJP (in alliance with the Akali Dal) won 32 seats, four short of getting a simple majority in the 70-member assembly.

The AAP has formed the government in Delhi with outside support from the Congress.

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