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BJP jubilant over Modi candidature; will Kejriwal contest?

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New Delhi, March 16 :

The BJP was in a jubilant mood Sunday, saying prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s candidature in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi will help it win a majority on its own in the Lok Sabha election.

Party leaders told IANS that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Saturday decision on Modi could also net in as many as 50 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the sprawling state, India’s most populous.Narendra Modi

Modi, party leaders in New Delhi and Varanasi said, would win hands down no matter who contested against him.

AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, meanwhile, tweeted that he would announce later Sunday whether or not he will take on Modi in Varanasi, located some 800 km east of New Delhi.

Kejriwal, now in Karnataka to address election rallies, tweeted: “Many people (are) asking me: ‘Will I contest against Modiji?’ I will talk on this issue in today’s rally at Bangalore.”

AAP leader Manish Sisodia told IANS earlier that it was more or less decided that Kejriwal, a former Delhi chief minister, will contest against Modi if the Gujarat chief minister was fielded in Varanasi.

BJP leaders did not comment on Kejriwal’s tweet but said Modi’s candidature would enthuse party activists both in the politically critical state of Uttar Pradesh and all over the country.

“The morale is very, very good now,” spokesman Prakash Javadekar told IANS.

“We are confident that our 272 model will be met,” he added, referring to the half-way mark in the Lok Sabha.

Another BJP leader, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, spoke on similar lines.

“Modiji is an icon and the face of development across communities and regions,” Naqvi told IANS.

“When he fights from an important state like Uttar Pradesh, it sends out a new wave of energy and enthusiasm throughout the country.

“It is celebration Holi before Holi for (party) workers in UP. They are jubilant and happy.”

Lakshmikant Bajpayee, the Uttar Pradesh BJP chief, said it was “very fortunate for us that Modi is fighting from Uttar Pradesh even though he is from Gujarat.

“He will get elected from UP and become the prime minister. This decision has infused the (party) workers with renewed energy.”

Bajpayee said he was confident the BJP will now bag at least 50 of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh.

The BJP won only 10 seats in Uttar Pradesh in 2009 and is desperate to push up the tally dramatically if it wants to make a pitch for government formation in New Delhi.

BJP strategists say Modi’s candidature in Varanasi will galvanize voters and party supporters alike.

Modi replaces outgoing Varanasi MP and BJP stalwart Murli Manohar Joshi, who will now contest from Kanpur.

BJP president Rajnath Singh has chosen Lucknow over Ghaziabad from where he won in 2009. No reason has been given for the shift but Ghaziabad is widely seen as a stronghold of Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party.

In Patna, RJD leader Lalu Prasad predicted that Modi will be defeated in Varanasi.

“Varanasi is a secular place and its people will defeat the communal Modi. Modi will lose from Varanasi,” he said.