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VK escapes BJP snipers

- Eggs, black flags for ‘outsiders’
VK Singh at the BJP office in Ghaziabad on Tuesday. (PTI)

New Delhi, March 18: The BJP today nominated the former army chief, General V.K. Singh, as its candidate from Ghaziabad despite protests from party workers in the constituency.

Yesterday, when it looked the general was going to be fielded from this seat bordering the national capital, Singh had visited the party office in Ghaziabad where he was heckled and shouted at by local workers.

They are said to have asked why an “outsider” was being foisted on them. But party general secretary Ananth Kumar today announced Singh’s nomination.

Singh hails from Haryana and studied in Rajasthan. When he joined the BJP last month, the Haryana and Rajasthan units demanded he be fielded from their states.

But the BJP brass, which has invested heavily in Uttar Pradesh, decided that heavy-duty professionals like Singh, especially those seen as having taken a stand against the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance government, should be projected more prominently in the polls.

Singh had taken the Centre to court over a controversy relating to his date of birth.

Party president Rajnath Singh, the sitting Ghaziabad MP, had won by a margin of nearly one lakh votes in 2009. Like Rajnath, the general is a Rajput.

Ghaziabad has a large population of Rajputs apart from other castes such as the Jats, Gujjars and Dalits. It has a sizeable number of ex-servicemen from these castes too. Muslims too form a major chunk of the population.

The former army chief will be pitted against film star Raj Babbar of the Congress and possibly Shazia Ilmi of the Aam Aadmi Party.

The BJP has fielded non-local candidates in several other constituencies too.

In Chandigarh today, for instance, actress Kirron Kher who has been nominated from the seat and husband Anupam Kher were shouted at. Anupam, a fellow actor, narrowly missed being hit by eggs.

The couple were shown black flags by supporters of former Chandigarh MP Satyapal Jain, local BJP chief Sanjay Tandon and former Union minister Harmohan Dhawan. The trio were vying among themselves for the ticket.

Despite their differences, Jain, Tandon and Dhawan put up a joint protest against Kirron, who insisted she was as much from Chandigarh as the rest.