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Maneka, Varun not in fray after three decades

BJP goes full steam with LS polls campaign in Pilibhit

Though Jitin Prasada claims to have the full support of the party organisation, locals claim those close to Varun are not happy with the BJP’s decision.

ManekaPILIBHIT: For the first time in more than three decades, the mother-son duo of Maneka and Varun Gandhi will not be in the fray from the Pilibhit constituency for which the BJP is going full throttle with Prime Minister Narendra Modi set to address a mega election rally here on Tuesday.

The party has denied a ticket to sitting MP Varun Gandhi from the constituency that has been represented either by him or his mother since 1996. Instead, it has fielded Uttar Pradesh Minister Jitin Prasada from the seat.

Pilibhit goes to polls on April 19 in the first of the seven-phase parliamentary elections.

Prasada, who won the 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha polls from Shahjahanpur and Dharura constituencies, respectively, on a Congress ticket, crossed over to the BJP in 2021. So far, he is the only Uttar Pradesh cabinet minister to be fielded in this Lok Sabha polls.

However, the member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council is facing the uphill task of making a political ground for himself in Pilibhit, where locals express a deep connection with Varun Gandhi.

“Jitin Prasada has very little influence in Pilibhit. As of now, he is being seen as an outsider fielded up by the BJP for the polls here,” said Sushil Kumar Gangwar, a retired college principal.

Maneka Gandhi won the seat on a Janata Dal ticket in 1989, lost in 1991 and won again in 1996. She won from the constituency again in 1998 and 1999 as an Independent candidate. She won the seat in 2004 and 2014 as a BJP candidate. Varun Gandhi won the seat in 2009 and 2019 as a BJP candidate.

Maneka is seeking reelection from Sultanpur, which she won as a BJP candidate in 2019.

Baburam Lodhi, a local village head, said, “Varun Gandhi’s connection with Pilibhit is very old and deep. This bond was reflected in the emotional letter he wrote after being denied nomination from the seat.”

Varun Gandhi wrote an emotional letter to the people of his constituency in which he asserted that his relationship with them would remain intact till his last breath. The incumbent MP asserted that his relationship with Pilibhit is one of love and trust, which is far above any political calculations.

Though Jitin Prasada claims to have the full support of the party organisation, locals claim those close to Varun are not happy with the BJP’s decision.

Prasada has so far remained tight-lipped on the issue. At public meetings, he describes himself as an ambassador of Modi and seeks votes in the prime minister’s name. In a show of support for Prasada, BJP MLAs under the Pilibhit Lok Sabha constituency—Sanjay Gangwar, Baburam Paswan, Vivek Verma, and Swami Prakhashanand—were proposers in his nomination papers.

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