Repeated calls of nature thanks to a stomach bug that also apparently caused gastric pain forced a BJP candidate in West Bengal to skip his campaign rally for which star campaigner Yogi Adityanath had specially flown down all the way from Uttar Pradesh.
Shantanu Thakur, BJP's man for Bengal's Bongaon seat, had "loose motions and such severe gastric pain on Monday morning that he could not go to Yogi Adityanath's rally," his personal physician and party colleague said.
Mr Thakur phoned Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and apologized for his no-show. "Fact is I had stomach trouble since the 19th. Yesterday it peaked. I was in bed all day. I regret I could not go to his rally. I explained the problem to him and expressed regret," Mr Thakur said
Was his apology accepted? Yogi Adityanath did not mention Mr Thakur even once in his 15-minute speech.
The incident sparked the craziest rumours ranging from a Thakur snub to Yogi Adityanath for his RSS links to some unknown quarters paying Mr Thakur Rs 10 crore for his no-show.
These rumours were circulated so many times on social media, a day after the Monday fiasco, that Mr Thakur had to call a press meet with a gastroenterologist by side. The doctor showed the media sheaves of prescriptions he had written out for the BJP candidate all through Monday.
"Rumours are being spread by anti-BJP elements. The people teach them a lesson in the ballot box," Mr Thakur said, denying all charges that he skipped the meet because someone paid him not to go to it.
"Yogi is a big leader, a future leader of India. He came to campaign for me. Why wouldn't I have gone if I was physically able to?" Mr Thakur asked.
No confirmation but BJP sources claim the party is split over Shantanu Thakur's candidature. Mr Thakur got the ticket over the head of senior party leaders simply because he is the spiritual head of the Matua scheduled caste community. 33 lakh strong, Matuas claim they influence the outcome in at least 6 to 8 seats in Bengal.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had come to the Matua headquarter in January on the invitation of Shantanu Thakur and addressed a Matua rally there. He had also met the Matua matriarch Binapani Devi who passed away soon after.
The January 28 rally saw huge crowds and a stampede like situation, much to the alarm of the Trinamool. Mamatabala Thakur is Trinamool parliamentarian from the Bongaon seat and sources in the Trinamool say they had written off the seat.
But the stomach bug could change all that. The Trinamool is hoping as much. If Yogi Adityanath was offended, it may impact the possibility of other big BJP leaders coming to campaign for Thakur and that could hit the ballot boxes. To add salt to their wounds, Trinamool claims the crowd at Yogi Adityanath's rally was thin and that had ticked the UP CM off as well as the mystery of the missing candidate.
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