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Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP’s answer to Laloo enters national arena

New Delhi, March 15: Sushil Kumar Modi, the leader of Opposition in Bihar, was today given a shot at national politics by being named the BJP candidate from the Bhagalpur Lok Sabha seat.

Modi, for long synonymous with anti-Laloo Prasad Yadav politics and once projected as the BJP’s answer to the former chief minister, was shifted out of the state after failing to unseat the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief.

The move, however, has been taken more with an eye on the Assembly polls due next year, sources said. With Modi around, the BJP was finding it difficult to zero in on a consensus chief ministerial candidate from the NDA, the sources added.

Modi is of RSS vintage and was instrumental in creating a public profile for the BJP. Party sources believe he will have to work overtime to make a mark on the seat held by the CPM’s Subodh Rai.

Modi was part of the second list of 96 candidates released today by the BJP after its central election committee met twice at the Prime Minister’s home. The total, including the 140 named yesterday, now stands at 236.

The remaining nominations will be wrapped up on March 21, by when the BJP hopes to clinch a seat-sharing deal with the Janata Dal (United) in Bihar.

Junior Union shipping minister Dilip Gandhi has quit the government after being denied renomination from Ahmednagar yesterday.

Bengal: Comedown

The BJP settled for 12 seats of the 14 demanded and fielded former CPM leader Badshah Alam from Malda. Tapan Sikdar has been renominated from Dum Dum as has Satyabrata Mukherjee from Krishnagar. Party general secretary Rahul Sinha will fight from Midnapore and Tapati Mandal from the Birbhum (Scheduled Caste) seat.

Sinha, however, said from Delhi his party would continue to demand the contentious Bankura and Purulia seats from the Trinamul Congress.

MP: Royal dilemma

Twenty more candidates for the state were decided today, apart from the three declared yesterday. A decision on the remaining six hangs in the balance as these include the prestigious Bhopal, Gwalior, Guna and Rajgarh.

The fate of Guna and Rajgarh, sources said, is intertwined because the BJP wants new entrant Laxman Singh, former chief minister Digvijay Singh’s brother, to take on Jyotiraditya Scindia in Guna. Laxman, the sources said, insisted on sticking to his Rajgarh seat.

The BJP dropped three incumbent MPs: former Union minister Sunderlal Patwa from Hoshangabad, Jaishree Banerjee from Jabalpur and Ramesh Naresh Tripathi from Seoni. Patwa opted out because of ill health, party general secretary Pramod Mahajan said.

Union minister Prahlad Patel, a key aide of chief minister Uma Bharti, was moved from his three-time seat of Balaghat to Chhindwara to challenge Congress’ Kamal Nath.

BJP sources claimed they were “confident” of wresting the Congress preserve as the rival party had lost all the Assembly segments of Chhindwara in the recent polls.

Gujarat: Axe on two

Of the 23 names finalised of the total 26, two MPs, Govardhan Javia from Porbandar and Dipak Patel from Anand, were dropped.

Jharkhand: Encore

The list of 12 of the state’s 14 seats has repeated all the incumbent MPs, including Union ministers Yashwant Sinha from Hazaribagh, Karia Munda from Khunti and Nagmani from Chhatra.

Assam: Singing start

Singer Bhupen Hazarika was fielded from Guwahati, which was among the 12 seats finalised out of the 14 in the state.

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