2024 Lok Sabha polls | BJP first list of 195 candidates is out; PM Modi keeps Varanasi

107 candidates from backward communities; most changes seen in Delhi list, least in Uttar Pradesh

March 02, 2024 07:36 pm | Updated March 03, 2024 11:15 am IST - New Delhi

BJP general secretary Vinod Tawde (middle) and other party leaders release in New Delhi on March 2, 2024 the party’s first list of candidates for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

BJP general secretary Vinod Tawde (middle) and other party leaders release in New Delhi on March 2, 2024 the party’s first list of candidates for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. | Photo Credit: PTI

The BJP came out with its first list of candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls on March 2, announcing 195 candidates across 16 States and two Union Territories. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will contest from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, his parliamentary seat for the last two general elections.

Out of the 195 candidates, 107 belong to backward communities, with 27 Scheduled Caste candidates, 18 Scheduled Tribe candidates, and 57 from other backward classes (OBCs). There are 28 women candidates in the list, and 47 candidates who are under the age of 50. One Muslim candidate, Abdul Salam, has been fielded from Malappuram in Kerala.

“I thank the @BJP4India leadership and bow to the crores of selfless Party Karyakartas for their constant faith in me. I look forward to serving my sisters and brothers of Kashi for the third time,” the Prime Minister said in a post on X. “In 2014, I went to Kashi with a commitment to fulfil people’s dreams and empower the poorest of the poor. Over the last ten years, we have made significant progress across various sectors and worked towards a better Kashi. These efforts will continue with even greater vigour. I would also like to convey a special gratitude to the people of Kashi for their blessings, which I cherish greatly,” he said.

Also read | Congress questions BJP for dropping incumbent MPs from first list

Controversial sitting MPs — like Malegaon blast case accused Pragya Singh Thakur from Bhopal, and Ramesh Bidhuri from South Delhi who was accused of casting communal slurs at fellow MP Danish Ali on the floor of the Lok Sabha — have been replaced by former Bhopal mayor Alok Sharma, and Ram Vir Singh Bidhuri, respectively.

34 Ministers fielded

There are 34 Union Ministers who have found a place in the first list, including Ministers Rajnath Singh (contesting again from Lucknow), Amit Shah (from Gandhinagar), and Smriti Irani (from Amethi). However, Minsiter of State Meenakshi Lekhi has been dropped from her New Delhi seat.

Interestingly, the former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan, now a regular MLA in the State, will fight for a Lok Sabha seat from Vidisha, while Biplab Deb, former Chief Minister of Tripura will be contesting from Tripura (West).

Among the Ministers who were Rajya Sabha MPs and are now in the fray for the Lok Sabha are Labour Minister Bhupendra Yadav, who is being fielded from Alwar in Rajasthan, Health Minister Mansukhbhai Mandaviya from Porbandar in Gujarat, and Rajeev Chandrashekhar from Thiruvananthapuram who will face off against Congress MP, Shashi Tharoor.

Major changes in Delhi

The list, finalised after major consultations and a marathon meeting of the Central Election Committee (CEC) on February 29, is interesting in the dramatic changes to the line up for Delhi, presaged by East Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir ruling himself out from the contest hours before the announcement.

However, almost no changes have been made to the list of 51 candidates announced for Uttar Pradesh. The State saw the repeat of 43 sitting MPs, including cine star Hema Malini from Mathura. New names have been announced for seats where the BJP lost in 2019, including Shravasti where Saket Mishra, son of Nripendra Mishra, former principal secretary to the Prime Minister, will be contesting. The surprise choice in U.P. emerged from Jaunpur, where Mumbai-based Kripashankar Singh, formerly a Congress MLA and Minister in that party’s government in Maharashtra, has been fielded instead of Krishna Pratap.

The list for Delhi seems to have seen the maximum changes. Apart from Manoj Tiwari, who has been repeated from North East Delhi, the BJP has fielded four fresh faces from the five seats it announced today, with two more seats left in abeyance. Bansuri Swaraj, the daughter of former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, will be running from New Delhi, replacing Meenakshi Lekhi. The Chandni Chowk seat will see traders’ association chief Praveen Khandelwal replacing Dr. Harsh Vardhan. In West Delhi, Kamaljeet Sehrawat replaces Pravesh Singh Sahi; in South Delhi, Ramvir Singh Bidhuri replaces Ramesh Bidhuri. The BJP is yet to announce its candidates from North-West and East Delhi.

Newcomers in the south

In Madhya Pradesh, despite apprehensions that MPs who had fought in the Assembly polls and lost would not be given tickets, both Ganesh Singh and Faggan Singh Kulaste have been repeated from Satna and Mandla respectively. In Chattisgarh, the BJP retained only two out of the nine sitting MPs, Vijay Baghel and Santosh Pandey, with three MPs having been elected as MLAs in the recently concluded Assembly polls. Saroj Pande from Korba is expected to get that seat into the BJP’s kitty as it is currently held by Jyotsna Mahant of the Congress.

The list for the southern States of Kerala and Telangana have seen much accommodation for newcomers. Mr Chandrashekhar from Thiruvananthapuram; Anil Antony, the son of former Defence Minister A.K. Antony, from Pathanamtitha; and Suresh Gopi from Thrissur. In Telangana, Lok Sabha MP B.B. Patil, who was newly inducted from the BRS, has been fielded from Zahirabad.

West Bengal candidates

The BJP has fielded nine sitting MPs from West Bengal out of 20 candidates from the State announced on Saturday, including the party’s State president Sukanta Majumdar from Balurghat, and Union Ministers of State Nisith Pramanik from Coochbehar, and Subhas Sarkar from Bankura, respectively. The party has also fielded three sitting MLAs: Manoj Tigga from the Alipurduar seat, Hiranmoy Chatterjee from Ghatal, and Sreerupa Mitra Choudhury from Malda Dakshin. John Barla, the sitting MP from Alipurduar, has been dropped.

The significant nominations include Bhojpuri actor Pawan Singh from Asansol and Soumendu Adhikari, the brother of Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, from the Kanthi Lok Sabha seat. Mr. Suvendu Adhikari’s father Sisir Adhikari is the Trinamool Congress MP from Kanthi. BJP leader Anirban Ganguly has been fielded from the Jadavpur Lok Sabha seat.

The 15 candidates announced for Rajasthan included eight sitting MPs and seven new faces. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla will contest the polls again from Kota, while BJP State president C.P. Joshi will contest from Chittorgarh, and Union Ministers Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Arjun Ram Meghwal from Jodhpur and Bikaner, respectively. Devendra Jhajharia, the first Indian Paralympics player to win two gold medals, has been fielded as the BJP candidate from Churu.

The BJP is likely to hold a second meeting of the CEC on March 6, where States not addressed so far — including big alliance States like Maharashtra and Bihar — will be considered.

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