LS POLLS: Will MM Joshi upset PM Modi’s applecart in Varanasi? Congress might back Joshi as Independent candidate

NEW DELHI: The BJP is caught in a crisis over denial of tickets to some prominent leaders in this round of Lok Sabha polls 2019. Veteran leaders Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi have been kept aside this season, and Advani’s Gandhinagar seat in Gujarat has been given to BJP chief Amit Shah for contest.
Advani, 91, was seemingly upset, even as the party appeared to be following a policy of keeping leaders above 75 from holding public office. Two days after word spread on this, the veteran leader came up with a social media post, saying those who criticise the BJP cannot be treated as anti-nationals or as the party’s enemies. Added he, “Nation first, party next, self last,” in what is seen as a dressing down to PM Modi.
At the same time, senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi is in half a mind to enter the Varanasi election fray as an Independent against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Joshi had represented Varanasi in the Lok Sabha till 2014, but handed it over to Modi when the latter expressed a desire to fight the polls from there, alongside his contest from Gujarat. Eventually, Joshi changed his constituency to Kanpur and won the seat in 2014. He has now been excluded by the party from the list of contestants.
Reports are that the Congress party has offered support to Joshi if he fought Modi from Varanasi. Some other opposition parties are also ready to back Joshi. The SP and the BSP too are considering such a proposal. This could pose serious problems for Modi, for the reason that Brahmins are a strong force in Varanasi, and might favour Joshi.
It is also reported that the RSS has started discussing the matters with both Advani and MM Joshi, and an amicable settlement might be arrived at.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, much against the desire of veterans like Advani and Joshi, the Modi-Amit Shah duo put the two ageing leaders into a Margdarshak Mandal — advisory council — for the party, and thereby excluded them from direct involvement in party or governmental affairs. It would appear that they were biding for their time, as Modi went on to assert his position in government and party, virtually running both with a heavy hand. 
Meanwhile, Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan who represented Indore constituency and crossed age 75 stated on Friday that she would not enter the contest this time. This announcement came also as the BJP leadership is dragging a decision on the party’s candidature for the constituency.
Shotgun Shatrughan Sinha, who quit the BJP recently after he was denied a ticket from Bihar’s Patna Sharif constituency, joined the Congress ranks and would campaign for the grand old party in this Lok Sabha polls. 


MM Joshi drove down to LK Advani’s residence on Friday evening and held talks with the veteran leader. No details about what transpired at the meet were given to the media. While Advani held the BJP president post for long years, MM Joshi too had functioned as party president for some time in the past. Advani started as a journalist with the Jan Sangh mouthpiece and later started working for the Jan Sangh, which transformed into BJP in the early 1980s. 

Joshi is a professor by profession. While Joshi has strong backing from Brahmins, Advani, a Sindhi, is widely respected across communities for his stellar work for the BJP, which he rose to power along with major support from Atal Behari Vajpayee since the party’s inception. 

A turning point for the BJP, for a leap to power, was the Rath Yatra that Advani had undertaken from Somnath in Gujarat, to press demand for the setting up of a Ram temple in the Lord’s birthplace in Ayodhya, where the Babri Masjid stood. 

The Babri Masjid demolition on  December 6, 1992, by a saffron crowd with LK Advani at its head, led to large-scale Hindu-Muslim riots in various parts of India, and prominently in UP, Gujarat and Mumbai. –IHN-NN 


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