Out of its long list of leaders, keen on contesting the state legislative council polls, the BJP on Sunday chose a low-profile SC leader and a RSS man from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi. Laxman Acharya — a regional president of Kashi Prant of BJP — is originally from Sonbhadra but has been living in Ramnagar area of Varanasi for many years now.
In another significant decision, BJP made it official that it will field a second candidate though it has numbers only to elect only one to the legislative council. This will mean that despite Congress backing out from the elections, there will be a contest for the 12 MLC seats, as both BSP and SP have fielded an extra candidate.
While BSP has fielded three candidates, though it can elect two, SP has fielded eight though it can elect only seven. With BJP fielding two candidates, it will mean 13 candidates for 12 seats.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Acharya — who used to teach at RSS-run Sarasvati Shishu Mandir till 1977 — said: “I was in tears when I was told about the decision because I could never imagine that an ordinary worker like me could ever be sent to Upper House. I am a product of Sangh and will remain so all my life. I began by teaching at Saraswati Shishu Mandir, which gave me title of Acharya…”
Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “his love”, Acharya added: “I have served in Varanasi for a long time as a simple organisation person. I have also served as the party’s Varanasi district president and later became the Kashi Prant president. At a very young age, I had taken training at the Sangh.” He claimed that while he had participated in Ram Mandir movement, he had never contested any election and preferred to work for the party organisation.
Sources said Acharya was made chairman of the fisheries board during Kalyan Singh regime in the state. While he was made the regional president of Kashi Prant about two-and-a-half years ago, he was earlier the general secretary of the same region.
When contacted, state BJP president Laxmikant Bajpai said: “Laxman Acharya is a man of organisation. He is known for his simplicity. He has worked for the upliftment of SCs and STs.”
Asked about fielding a second candidate, Bajpai said: “It has been decided that the party will field a second candidate, whose name should be out by Monday evening. Our candidates will file nomination on January 13 at 11 am.” January 13 is the last date of filing of nomination. While three BSP candidates have already filed their nomination papers, eight SP candidates would do so on Monday.
While BJP has played a caste card by fielding Acharya, they party is still contemplating on the second candidate. Those in the fray include senior leader Bupendra Chaudhary. While some are in the favour of fielding a backward class candidate like Chaudhary, others say the second candidate should be a Brahmin.
While both BSP and SP were relieved after Congress indicated that it would backout from the elections, BJP’s announcement has put them in tough spot, especially SP. BJP leaders in the state have been claiming that large number of SP MLAs are already in touch with them.