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THE Bharatiya Janata Partys central election committee is all set to announce Saturday that the partys prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will contest the Lok Sabha election from Varanasi, ending the suspense over his choice of seat after veteran leader Murli Manohar Joshi indicated his reluctance to vacate the constituency for the Gujarat chief minister.
The party is also expected to declare that its president Rajnath Singh will be the candidate from the prestigious Lucknow constituency, once represented by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Party sources said Joshi may be fielded from Kanpur and former UP unit chief Kalraj Mishra, who was eyeing Kanpur, could be offered Shravasti or Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh.
Sources said this formula was arrived after a marathon meeting Friday about the partys candidates from Uttar Pradesh. The meeting was attended by general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, Amit Shah, general secretary (organisation) Ramlal, top state leaders and Rajnath Singh.
Shah and Ramlal had also held talks Wednesday with RSS leaders Suresh Soni and Krishna Gopal over UP candidates.
The Bharatiya Janata Partys UP unit, under the guidance of Modi aide Amit Shah, has been keen to field Modi from the temple town to maximise the partys electoral prospects in the politically crucial state.
Although Varanasi cannot be considered a safe seat for the Bharatiya Janata Party given its performance in the last two polls, it has symbolic significance.
It would demonstrate a commitment towards symbols of Hindutva to the partys core voters even as Modi seeks a wider mandate on the basis of his development agenda, a senior central party functionary said.
While Modi has avoided the Ram Temple and other Hindutva issues, he mentioned Ram Rajya during a public speech in Varanasi.
Since the Bharatiya Janata Partys rise on the back of its Ram Temple movement, the party won the Varanasi seat consistently since 1991 until the streak was broken by the Congress in 2004. But Joshi wrested it back in 2009.
Besides symbolism, party leaders also have clear electoral calculations for wanting to field Modi from Varanasi.
While the party hopes to benefit from the polarisation in western Uttar Pradesh in the wake of the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar last year, it needs another booster in the eastern parts, the leaders feel.
Modis candidature from eastern Uttar Pradesh will provoke Mulayam Singh Yadavs SP and Mayawatis BSP to rally their Muslim support base. That, in turn, may lead to polarisation of other communities