The BJP on Friday announced Lalji Tandon as its nominee for the prestigious Lucknow seat for the coming elections. The seat is represented by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the 14th Lok Sabha. Tandon is also known to have enjoyed excellent relations with top Samajwadi Party (SP) leaders in the past and was once described by Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati as her Rakhi bhai.
Known as Vajpayees point man in Lucknow,Tandon was a minister in the Kalyan Singh Government and later appointed Urban Development Minister in the Mayawati regime of the BJP-BSP alliance. After the announcement of his name,Tandon said that he did not consider Akhilesh Das (BSP) or Sanjay Dutt (being propped by the SP) as his rivals. The people of Lucknow dont run after glamour or pomp and show. Atal Bihari Vajpayee had planned a number of schemes for Lucknow that remained unfulfilled. I have been Urban Development Minister here and I know those schemes. My priority will be to speed up the execution of all those plans, he said. Tandon,who considers himself as 84-year-old Vajpayees successor,is 72.
Asked if there was difference in opinion in the central BJP on his candidature for the Lucknow seat,Lalji said: What do we have to do with Delhi when people in Lucknow are extremely happy with my candidature? Asked if he received any communication from the partys PM candidate,he said,L K Advani was out of station.
The BJP central election committee that met here on Thursday had discussed the names of Dinesh Sharma and Lalji Tandon for Lucknow. While Tandons position was strengthened due to his ties with Vajpayee as well as the fact that he enjoys some following amongst Lucknows Shias,he was also named in an FIR by the Election Commission for a controversial CD during the 2007 Assembly polls in UP.
On his well-known ties with the SP leaders,a senior BJP leader,requesting anonymity,told The Indian Express,After a stampede killed more than 20 people on his birthday function in 2004 when he was distributing saris to the poor,a top SP leader rushed to his residence,instead of visiting the victims. On another occasion,after a statue of Deen Dayal Upadhyay was felled in Rampur,and the BJP decided to take to streets in protest,Tandon stage-managed his own arrest,in cahoots with the then SP Government,before he could reach Ground Zero.
(With inputs from Tarannum Manjul in Lucknow)