In a sudden move of political oneupmanship, Samajwadi Party candidate from Varanasi Kailash Chaurasia tonight resigned as minister of state in the Akhilesh Yadav government and dared Narendra Modi to enter the fray after quitting as Gujarat Chief Minister and giving up the Vadodara seat.
"I have faxed my resignation to the Chief Minister this evening. I hope it would be accepted. But my point is that the BJP must ask its candidate, who is being projected as a Prime Ministerial candidate, to show the courage to step down as the Chief Minister of Gujarat," Chaurasia told reporters here.
The SP candidate said Modi should not only give up the Chief Minister's post but also the Vadodara seat in his home state which he is using as a sanctuary to protect himself from an undesirable outcome in Varanasi.
"I am now fighting not as a state minister but as an ordinary citizen of Varanasi. If he (Modi) expects to win from this holy city in order to realize his ambitions, he must also show the courage to fight as an ordinary citizen," Chaurasia, who holds Child Development and Nutrition and Primary Education portfolios, said.
Replying to a query, Chaurasia said the decision (to resign as minister) was his own and arose out of the socialist conviction that one must not fear exposing oneself to any type of risks while contesting elections.
"Unlike him (Modi) I do not believe in having 'dono haath mein laddu' (having the cake and eat it too)".
He made it clear that his decision was "in no way indicative of any dissatisfaction with SP" as he was going to contest as the party's candidate.
Asked about reported dissatisfaction with his performance as minister having influenced his choice as a candidate for the seat, he retorted "this is not the time to discuss this point".
Chaurasia , an MLA from Mirzapur constituency, was fielded by SP from Varanasi apparently in view of a sizeable population of his caste group here and the fact that they have been traditionally BJP supporters.
The party hopes to queer the pitch for Modi by fielding Chaurasia, who also runs a number of businesses in the temple town.