Vowing to give Narendra Modi a tough fight in Varanasi, Congress on Tuesday said it will put up a formidable candidate against the BJP PM nominee and urged all like minded parties to support it in the “battle against communalism”.
“Do not be surprised if Varanasi witnesses a similar spectacle as Ghaziabad from where BJP chief Rajnath Singh ran away after Congress fielded Raj Babbar,” party spokesman Randeep Surjewala said.
Expressing Congress’ resolve to give a good fight to Modi, Surjewala said that the party is putting up its candidate with the belief that he will be winning the contest against the BJP PM candidate.
Surjewala replied in the affirmative when asked whether the Congress will appeal to all like minded parties to support its candidate in Varanasi against Modi.
He said that Congress candidate, whose announcement will be made “very soon”, needed to be supported by all like minded parties as it alone could carry forward the battle against communalism and divisive forces in a cohesive direction.
He faced several questions on the possible candidate for the high-profile contest, but declined to hazard any guess.
He claimed that the fact that Modi has started searching for a second seat in Gujarat a day after his candidature was declared from Varanasi showed that he has become “jittery and has developed cold feet”.
The remarks of Surjewala came two days after party General Secretary Madhusudan Mistry had declared that the Congress will give a “good fight” to Modi on Varanasi seat and did not rule out fielding an ‘outsider’.
“We will be giving a good fight but we are not decided whether the candidate against Modi will be a local or an outsider,” Mistry, a known detractor of the Gujarat Chief Minister, had said.
Among the local candidates, the names of Rajesh Mishra and Ajay Rai are doing the rounds. A section in the Congress wants an influential leader pitched against Modi, while others want a celebrity to be fielded against him.
Surjewala said that senior party leader Anil Shastri’s suggestion needed be seen from a wider angle of fighting communal forces.
Shastri in a tweet had said “If BSP & SP are serious on defeating Modi from Varanasi, they alongwith Congress should put up a joint candidate against him”.
AP leader Arvind Kejriwal has also declared that he was ready to take on Modi in Varanasi but linked his final call to the people’s approval there.