The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Party poll push for Vasundhara and Uma

New Delhi, Oct. 13: The BJP leadership is veering round to the idea of its three chief ministerial candidates — Vasundhara Raje, Uma Bharti and Madan Lal Khurana — contesting the Assembly elections with the others.

A decision to this effect is likely to be taken by the central election committee when it meets here in the first week of November.

“It has been decided that all three will contest right away instead of waiting to see if the party wins the polls and then seek election within the mandated six months. However, the decision can only be announced after the central election committee’s ratification,” a highly-placed source said.

It was thought “fairly safe” to ask the three to file their nominations, said BJP sources, with the party on a “roll” in Madhya Pradesh, having an edge in Rajasthan and “slowly but surely gaining ground” in Delhi — which was at the bottom of the heap till recently.

A section of the BJP had initially been sceptical of the decision, saying Vasundhara, Bharti and Khurana — all Lok Sabha members — ought not to jump into the fray with the rest but be available for campaigning and contest at a later date, if necessary.

Bharti and Khurana shot down the proposal, saying — through their supporters — that unless they contested the Assembly polls, their claim to the top slot in the states would not be taken seriously.

Sources said the proposal — attributed to BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan — was meant to help Vasundhara who reportedly is yet to be fully accepted by the Rajasthan BJP.

While Bharti and Khurana have, by and large, managed to paper over the factional differences in the party’s units in Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, Vasundhara is believed to be facing resistance from the old guard comprising Ramdas Aggarwal, Lalit Chaturvedi and Ghanshyam Tiwari.

Her mentor and the Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat —who was instrumental in pushing her candidacy — is learnt to have “backed off” a little after assessing the state unit’s reaction.

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