With the BJP throwing huge resources into Varanasi, the local Congress unit has asked the party leadership to send “reinforcements” in the form of financial support, star campaigners and campaign material.
While Congress candidate Ajay Rai, who is pitted against BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, has been fighting the election on the “local” versus “outsiders” plank, none of the top Congress leaders have campaigned for him so far.
The party’s district unit has already written to the Congress leadership in this connection. On Sunday, a letter, purportedly written by Rai to party president Sonia Gandhi, listing the names of star campaigners he wanted, was also released to the media. However, Rai on Monday said the letter had been a “mistake”.
“This letter was not sent to anybody. It has been dropped. It was wrongly sent without any discussion,” he said. The letter asked the party leadership to rope in Gujarat leaders who could “expose” the “Gujarat model”. It also said road shows should cover areas dominated by minorities.
Rai’s aide said the letter had not been signed, and was released to the media due to a “blunder”.
“But the district party president has already written a letter in this regard a few days ago,” he said.
“We have requested for programmes of the Congress president and vice-president, including road shows and rallies. Several names of leaders and campaigners have been sent. We are waiting for confirmation,” Varanasi district Congress president Praja Nath Sharma said. He also confirmed that they have sought more funds.
Asked if the party had left him to fight the battle on his own, Rai said, “The party is supporting me. We are fighting hard.”