Rajnath among BJP Lok Sabha candidates, Atal may not contest (Lead)

November 11th, 2008 - 9:21 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 11 (IANS) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh is among 11 candidates from Uttar Pradesh the party Tuesday evening said will contest the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, even as party sources claimed that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee may not stand from the Lucknow seat which he represents. Rajnath Singh will fight from Ghaziabad constituency, bordering New Delhi, the BJP announcement said. A senior party leader meanwhile told IANS: “Atalji has not been keeping well and is unlikely to contest the election.” Another leader, close to the candidate selection process, said the former prime minister was not keen on a Rajya Sabha berth either.

National vice presidents Kalyan Singh, a MP, and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi are candidates for Etah and Rampur seats respectively. Kalyan Singh is at present a Lok Sabha member from Bulandshahr.

The list includes former union ministers Murli Manohar Joshi, who will contest from Varanasi, and Maneka Gandhi (Anwala). Her son Varun will contest from Pilibhit, his mother’s present seat.

The other MPs who figure in the list are Yogi Adityanath (Gorakhpur), Santosh Gangwar (Bareilly) and Pankaj Chaudhary (Maharajganj). Ashok Pradhan and Bhanu Pratap Verma have been declared candidates from Bulandshahr and Jalaun respectively. Both are reserved for Dalits.

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar, who released the list, parried questions as to why the party is unable to make up its mind for the Lucknow seat represented by Vajpayee.

Javadekar said: “It’s a process… Lucknow will also be declared in subsequent lists. Uttar Pradesh is a big state and the list will be out in phases.”

Asked if the party was in two minds about Lucknow, he said: “Not at all.”

Asked why the Lok Sabha candidates list was being declared so early, another party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy told IANS: “The party had decided to announce candidates early in order to provide them ample time to prepare for the polls.

“If the assembly elections were not being held now, the list would have been announced earlier,” he said, and reminded that the BJP had already declared three candidates including L.K. Advani (Gandhinagar). This was the second list of candidates, Rudy said.

BJP vice president Naqvi told IANS: “Elections these days have also become personality-based besides the party and its programmes. So if senior and acceptable candidates are fielded, they help strengthen not only the seat they are fighting for but also have a positive impact on the surrounding constituencies.

“Uttar Pradesh is going to be important in the Lok Sabha elections and has as many as 80 seats. So it helps if preparations begin early with senior candidates, ” Naqvi said.

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