Vajpayee handpicks Lalji Tandon for Lucknow Lok Sabha seat

February 28th, 2009 - 12:15 am ICT by IANS  

Lucknow, Feb 27 (IANS) Senior Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Uttar Pradesh minister Lalji Tandon was Friday named as the party’s nominee for the Lucknow Lok Sabha seat, held by former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for five successive terms.
While a formal announcement to that effect was made by BJP chief Rajnath Singh in New Delhi, top BJP sources confirmed that it was done on Vajpayee’s insistence.

It is said that Vajpayee expressed his reluctance to seek re-election on account of his poor health and wanted his close lieutenant Tandon to wear the mantle of his successor here. However, a section of BJP’s top leadership disapproved of the idea as they felt that age and ill-health would come in Tandon’s way too.

However, Vajpayee chose to exercise his veto and prevailed upon the party to let Tandon try his luck at the hustings from what has been the former prime minister’s political bastion for years. While another Vajpayee protege Kalraj Misra was also among the keen aspirants for the slot, Tandon scored over him on account of having been Vajpayee’s constituency manager over the years.

Tandon has been representing Lucknow’s walled city in the state assembly. Apart from having carried out much development in the otherwise neglected old city, Tandon was also seen as among the few BJP leaders with secular leanings. No wonder, he enjoyed support of a section of Muslims too.

However, he earned some infamy on account of a stampede that was triggered on account of poor management of a sari distribution exercise he undertook as a sop to the local voters during the run-up to the 2004 elections.

Reacting to Tandon’s projection as the BJP nominee from Lucknow, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) national general secretary Satish Misra predicted doom for the BJP in the constituency, from where BSP will field Congress turncoat Akhilesh Das.

“Lalji Tandon will lose his deposit from Lucknow, where the only thing he did was to pilfer funds doled out by Vajpayee for various development projects in his constituency,” Misra told a Brahmin-Dalit ‘bhaichara’ (brotherhood) meet in the heart of Tandon’s assembly constituency here Friday.

Tandon, who was in New Delhi, is arriving here Saturday.

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