Veteran BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi was on Tuesday also dropped as a BJP candidate for the Lok Sabha elections, while Union minister Maneka Gandhi and her MP son Varun Gandhi swapped their seats as the party announced its 29 more nominees from Uttar Pradesh. BJP general secretary Arun Singh announced that Union minister Manoj Sinha has been fielded from Ghazipur, a seat he had won in 2014, and UP government ministers Rita Bahuguna Joshi and Satyadev Pachauri from prestigious Allahabad and Kanpur seats respectively.
Joshi, 85, had won from Kanpur in 2014 but was told by the party leadership that he would not be fielded in the coming elections. The party has not given the ticket to veterans like L K Advani, B C Khanduri and Kalraj Mishra among others. Actor politician Jaya Prada was fielded from Rampur hours after she joined the party Tuesday. UP BJP president Mahendra Nath Pandey has been repeated from Chandauli, Singh said. Maneka Gandhi will contest from Sultanpur and Varun Gandhi from Pilibhit.
The BJP also announced its 10 candidates from West Bengal.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi today hit back at the BJP and PM Narendra Modi over the criticism of his minimum income guarantee plan, and said Modi had mocked MGNREGA, too, and failed to understand Congress government’s employment generation scheme.
Addressing a Jan Sankalp Rally in Bundi, Rajasthan, Gandhi said once Modi gave a speech in Lok Sabha and claimed no one benefited out of MGNREGA. “He couldn’t understand what it is all about,” the Congress chief said.
“MNREGA gave jobs to crores of people in the country. In last 5 years, Modi has opposed and weakened all the schemes that helped the poor. He referred to MNREGA as ‘digging pits’. He doesn’t understand that these schemes lifted 14 crore people out of poverty,” he said.
Gandhi assured those in attendance that he would deliver on his income promise, and said people can check his record. “What I promise, I deliver. Same was done in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and MP, where I promised farmers loan waiver. As soon as our government came into power, I did that,” he said.
Actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha, who is all set to quit the BJP and join the opposition alliance in Bihar, showered praise on Rahul Gandhi, calling him the “master of situation” and his proposed minimum income guarantee scheme–‘NYAY’ a “masterstroke”.
Sinha, a two-term sitting MP from Patna Sahib, also slammed the BJP for doubting the feasibility of the proposed scheme. “It has rattled our people so much that some of our prominent people had to rush for a press conference, calling the whole declaration/announcement chhal-kapat (skulduggery),” Sinha tweeted.
Gandhi said the proposed income scheme of the Congress was the party’s “surgical strike” on poverty, even as he attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for lobbying for industrialists. Addressing a rally in Rajasthan, Gandhi said, “The Prime Minister says ‘Main Chowkidar Hoon’. He didn’t say whose chowkidaar he is. Have you seen a chowkidaar at a farmer’s home? Have you seen a chowkidaar at the home of an unemployed youth?” The Congress chief will speak at the Khel Sankul Ground in Bundi and later in the evening, address the Shakti Booth Workers Meeting at Ramleela Ground in Jaipur.
Meanwhile, the Nishad Party today became the fourth constituent of the Gathbandhan in Uttar Pradesh as it joined hands with the Samajwadi Party for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Veteran actor Jaya Prada joined the Bharatiya Janata Party and said she had pledged her life to the service of the party.
Political parties have swung into action as today is the last day of filing nominations for the second phase of polling. So far, the BJP has released nine lists for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, while Congress announced its eleventh list of candidates on Monday.
In a boost to N. Chandrababu Naidu’s efforts to cobble together a federal front, several national leaders will join the TDP’s election campaign in the coming days. Today, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah will participate in election campaign along with Naidu. Abdullah will address public meetings in Kadapa and at Allagadda in Kurnool district.
The opposition parties will also address a presser on demonetisation at 1pm which will be attended by leaders across political parties.
Congress General Secretary for eastern Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will visit Amethi and Rae Bareli on 27th and 28th March and Ayodhya on 29th March. Meanwhile, UP CM Yogi Adityanath will campaign in Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency.
Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will launch the election campaign of BJP candidate Kummanam Rajasekharan in Thiruvananthapuram today. Sitharaman will inaugurate the campaign of the party candidate, who was also former governor of Mizoram, at E K Nayanar Park, Putharikkandam, at 5pm. The Minister will also inaugurate the election committee office of BJP at PRS Krishna, Ambuja Vilasam Road, at 4pm.
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