Will Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra contest from Varanasi against Prime Minister Narendra Modi? There is a view in the party that she should, if Rahul Gandhi contests from a second seat. This section contends that Rahul contesting from a seat in South India will be used by the BJP to argue that he has run away from UP, and Priyanka contesting against Modi himself can be the Congress’s counter. Meanwhile, the Congress in Kerala is still awaiting Rahul’s decision on whether he will contest from Wayanad. This has meant the party is also not announcing the candidature of K Muraleedharan from Vadakara, leaving him hamstrung. Muraleedharan was earlier keen on contesting from Wayanad.
Even though it has little presence in West Bengal, the Shiv Sena has fielded candidates in 15 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state – widely being seen as an attempt to pull some Hindu votes. The recent bonhomie between the Sena and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has led to speculation that the Sena is fielding candidates – all of them from the majority community – to split BJP votes in these constituencies. Some of the seats where the Sena is contesting from are areas where the BJP has been gaining traction, such as Purulia. Most of the 4,000 or so political workers who have recently joined the Sena are old BJP workers who have been sidelined by
the party’s new BJP over the last few years. Shiv Sena’s West Bengal unit general secretary Ashok Sarkar himself is a
former BJP leader.
NDA constituent Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) president Ram Vilas Paswan has announced that he will accompany BJP president Amit Shah when he files nomination from Gandhinagar seat in Gujarat on Saturday. While many other top NDA leaders will be present in a show of support for Shah, for LJP the move could be seen as a return favour after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to start his election campaign in Bihar with a public meeting on April 2 in Jamui, where Paswan’s son Chirag is contesting for a second Lok Sabha term.