Women vs. women
It was expected to be an interesting clash between a popular film actress and a young Muslim leader for the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat, but the former has opted out of the contest.
Vijayashanti, vice-president of the women's wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), reportedly decided not to contest fearing that a possible defeat in the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) stronghold might affect her image.
It was on Monday that the BJP leadership had announced her candidature against MIM's Asaduddin Owaisi.
As a face-saving measure, the BJP announced that the actress was asked to withdraw from the contest because it wanted to use her for campaigning all over the southern state.
"Fielding her from Hyderabad would have confined her to one constituency," argued BJP state president N. Indrasena Reddy.
Vijayashanti also denied that she was afraid of losing and said she was only following the directives of the party leadership.
"If it was true that I am afraid of losing, then why would I say 'yes' to contesting against Priyanka Gandhi from Bellary if Priyanka was chosen as the Congress candidate there?" asked the actress popularly known as Lady Amitabh Bacchan.
MIM president Sultan Salhuddin has been winning the seat since 1984 but this time has fielded his son Asaduddin Owaisi.
The BJP has now replaced Vijayashanti with Deputy Mayor of Hyderabad Subhash Chanderj as its candidate.