BJP chief and Lucknow candidate Rajnath Singh kicked off his campaign on Wednesday by invoking Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s legacy as he arrived in the city with the former PM’s close aide Shiv Kumar. “After I was declared party candidate, he (Shiv Kumar) expressed the desire to accompany me to Lucknow on my first visit (after announcement). I am grateful to him,” Rajnath said, referring to Atal’s four-decade-old aide who was sitting next to him.
In 1969, Shiv Kumar gave up his law practice to work full time for Vajpayee on Jan Sangh’s instructions. Since then, he has remained with the former PM like his shadow. Even a decade after Vajpayee’s political retirement and ill health, Kumar continues to take care of the elderly leader.
Rajnath began his news conference by calling his constituency “Atal ki karmabhoomi, shaam-e-awadh Lucknow”, and said his mission is to fulfill his mentor’s dream, who won five consecutive terms from the city.
The BJP chief also quelled his predecessor Lalji Tandon’s discontentment saying the incumbent MP had requested him to contest from Lucknow. Tandon, who was present at the press meet, gave an affirmative nod.
Tandon had openly expressed his reluctance to vacate his seat for anyone except BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi but was made to fall in line by the party’s central leadership. “I was not in a position at that time to say anything to him (Tandon) since the decision to finalize the candidates solely rests with the party’s central election committee,” Rajnath said.
Attacking the SP government, BJP chief said it should resign on moral grounds after being indicted by the Supreme Court for Muzaffarnagar riots.
He expressed hope that senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh, who has filed his nomination as an Independent from Barmer in Rajasthan, would withdraw it before the March 29 deadline. But he refused to answer any question on AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal who has entered the fray against Narendra Modi in Varanasi. During his three-day stay, Rajnath will meet party workers on Thursday and inaugurate his election office in Hazratganj on Friday.