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Rajnath flaunts Atal ‘gift’

Lucknow, April 3: Rajnath Singh is going into the Lucknow contest armed with an angavastram, which the BJP said was Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s blessing.

The BJP president, who has been trying to project himself in the mould of Vajpayee, is expected to call on the former Prime Minister tomorrow before filing his nomination on Saturday for the Lucknow seat.

“Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s blessings are crucial for anyone willing to contest from the BJP. I had obtained a letter from him in 2009. Vajpayee has shown a generous gesture by offering his angavastram to Rajnathji. He will come out with flying colours,” said Lalji Tandon, the sitting BJP MP.

Vajpayee, who is ailing and has not been seen in public for years, represented Lucknow in Parliament and last won the seat in 2004.

Tandon and another aide of the former Prime Minister, Shiv Kumar, today showed off the “angavastram” before the media.

Shiv Kumar said: “The angavastram is something that Vajpayee himself used and he has given this to Rajnath Singh as a token of his faith in him. The BJP national president will use this on April 5 when he files his nominations in Lucknow.”

The move is aimed at wooing the over 2.5 lakh Brahmin voters in Lucknow, a section crucial for Rajnath’s victory.

All of his rivals, except the Aam Aadmi Party candidate, are Brahmins. The BSP has fielded Nakul Dube, the Congress Rita Bahuguna Joshi and the Samajwadi Party Abhisekh Mishra. The AAP has fielded film star Jaaved Jaaferi, who reached Lucknow today.

Attempts to stake a claim to Vajpayee’s legacy to impress the Brahmin voters in Lucknow are nothing new.

Before campaigning in 2009, Tandon had obtained a letter from Vajpayee asking people to vote for him. He won by about 35,000 votes.