The BJP's old guards in Uttar Pradesh appear to be trying hard to protect their turf. After Murli Manohar Joshi in Varanasi and Lalji Tandon in Lucknow, Kalraj Mishra is learnt to have been working diligently in Kanpur.
However, when contacted, he said the decision on seats would be left to the BJP's Central Election Committee. "Whatever the CEC decides will be authentic. If anybody is talking about candidates before that, its against the interests of the party," Mishra told dna on Monday.
Mishra was apparently referring to reports that Joshi may be shifted to Kanpur seat, which was once a saffron bastion, if the BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi contested from Varanasi. The BJP had lost Kanpur to Congress in the past two Lok Sabha polls.
The first list of Uttar Pradesh is expected in the next meeting of the party CEC on March 13, in which Modi will be present.
A party leader from UP said Modi's candidature from Varanasi would give a strategic advantage to the BJP in the Purvanchal region. There has been demand from the UP unit and cadres for Modi to fight from UP, which in the party's assessment will give an additional ten seats. The leader said that while he would not lose anything in Gujarat if he fights from outside the state, the additional push would come if he contested from anywhere in UP.
However, the delay in announcement of candidates has upset the party cadre, sources said. The BJP had earlier said that the first list in UP would be declared by January.
While speculation was rife in the media on Modi contesting from Varanasi over the past couple of months, Joshi was devoting time in the constituency, from where he is a sitting MP.
After raising the media reports on Modi's candidature from Varanasi at a party meeting last week, Joshi said he had no problems with the decision that is taken to enhance the prestige and numbers for the party.
Meanwhile, Lalji Tandon also had been maintaining that as far as he was concerned he was contesting from Lucknow, amidst reports that Rajnath Singh may enter the fray this time from the state capital. Kesrinath Tripathi is understood to be keen on fighting from Allahabad.