Indian Express

Congress to give ‘a good fight’ to Narendra Modi, may also field outsider

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With the announcement of Narendra Modi from Varanasi, BJP hopes to boost the party's prospects in the electorally crucial state. (Reuters) With the announcement of Narendra Modi from Varanasi, BJP hopes to boost the party's prospects in the electorally crucial state. (Reuters)

Congress on Sunday said it will give a “good fight” to BJP leader Narendra 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,” party general secretary Madhusudan Mistry told PTI when asked whom the party plans to field against Modi.

Mistry, a known detractor of the Gujarat chief minister, is in-charge of Congress affairs in Uttar Pradesh. 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 pitched against him.

Mishra, who represented the seat from 2004 to 2009, had said that he has “no problem” in facing Modi in the polls.

Rai, who quit Samajwadi Party to join Congress, had come third in the last election.

Last night, BJP ended the suspense over Modi’s constituency by declaring that he will be contesting from the holy city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. Modi replaces sitting MP and senior party leader Murli  Manohar Joshi, who had been resisting the move. Joshi has been shifted to Kanpur.

With the announcement of Modi from Varanasi, BJP hopes to boost the party’s prospects in the electorally crucial state.

BJP had gained centre stage in Indian politics on the back of the Ayodhya movement, which had brought huge electoral dividends in Northern India especially in Uttar Pradesh.

Mishra has alleged that the holy town has been held “captive” by BJP by fielding “outsiders” from the constituency so far including Joshi.

Mishra had finished fourth in the last polls as the  election had become a tussle between Joshi and Mukhtar Ansari of the BSP.

Mishra had said that in the 16-lakh strong electorate, there are four lakh Muslims, three lakh Brahmins and almost an equal number of Vaishyas.

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