The delay —largely unexplained so far — in announcing its candidate against the BJP’s PM nominee Narendra Modi is frustrating the Congress vote-bank. Also, its loyal leaders have already started switching over to the Modi bandwagon.
“There’s a long list of Congress leaders who want to resign from the party. This list is growing with each passing day,” said a senior Congress leader. And Modi’s closest aide and the BJP’s in charge of Uttar Pradesh, Amit Shah, is cashing in on the situation.
First, he took in Dayashankar Mishra ‘Dayalu’ on March 1. Now, Dr Ashok Singh, a Congress leader and a renowned medical practitioner, who left the party on Wednesday, is waiting for Shah’s next Varanasi visit or the day Modi files his nomination papers.
What’s more, a Congress MLA, who was a frontrunner for the party’s ticket from Varanasi, may quit on the day Modi files his nomination.
Meanwhile, the AAP has made a considerable impact on the Muslim vote-bank in the absence of a Congress candidate. AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, with his two road shows on March 25 and 26 and a rally, has managed to build traction among Muslims.
Congress leader Dharmendra Singh, concerned over the double-whammy – Modi and Kejriwal – said, “There is no rationale behind the delay in announcing the candidate... This delay will cost the party dear.”
Quami Ekta Dal candidate Mukhtar Ansari’s entry into the poll fray has further complicated matters for the Congress.
Congress MLA Ajay Rai and former Varanasi MP Rajesh Mishra are the two local contenders for the party’s ticket from the temple town with former being the favourite.