Lok Sabha Election 2019: BJP first list out, PM Modi to contest from Varanasi
New Delhi, Mar 21: The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday released its first list of candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will contest the Lok Sabha election from Varanasi, the seat he represents in Parliament, BJP president Amit Shah will fight from Gandhinagar in place of veteran leader L K Advani as the party Thursday announced its first list of 184 candidates for the general election.
BJP heavyweights such as Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari have been fielded from Lucknow and Nagpur seats respectively with the party reposing its faith in all but one Union minister from the constituency they had won in 2014.
Senior party leader J P Nadda released the list at a press conference on the auspicious day of Holi following three marathon meetings of its central election committee (CEC).
Union minister and fiery leader Smriti Irani will reprise her electoral battle with Congress president Rahul Gandhi from Amethi, where she had lost to him in 2014 but was seen to have put up a spirited fight.
The biggest surprise in the first list is dropping of Advani, the 91-year-old party stalwart who called the shots in the BJP for decades before Modi's rise eclipsed him, from Gandhinagar and Shah's decision to make his Lok Sabha poll debut from there.
Advani has been representing Gandhinagar in the Lok Sabha since 1998 and Shah was incidentally his poll manager in initial elections.
The BJP also renominated Union ministers V K Singh, Mahesh Sharma, Kiren Rijiju, D V Sadananda Gowda, Babul Supriyo from Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Arunachal West, Bengalore North and Asansol, respectively. They had won from the same seats in 2014.
The party announced names of its 28 candidates from Uttar Pradesh and dropped six incumbent MPs, including Union minster Krishna Raj from Shahjahanpur and Scheduled Caste (SC) Commission head and Agra MP Ram Shankar Katheria. It has renominated former cine star Hema Malini from Mathura.
It is locked in a tough battle with the SP-BSP alliance in the state and is expected to drop more sitting MPs in the days ahead as it announces names of its other nominees. UP sends the highest number of Lok Sabha MPs, 80, to the House and the BJP had won 71 of them in 2014.
Nadda said the party has also finalised names of all 17 party candidates from Bihar and sent the list to the state unit which will announce it jointly with allies -- JD(U) and Lok Janshakti Party.
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is likely to be fielded from Patna Sahib and his ministerial colleague Giriraj Singh from Begusarai.
In the first list of 184 candidates, 16 are from Maharashtra, eight from Assam, two from Arunachal Pradesh, five from Chhatisgarh and Jammu and Kashmir each, 21 from Karnataka, 13 from Kerala, 10 from Odisha, 16 from Rajasthan, five from Tamil Nadu, 10 from Telangana, five from Uttarakhand, 28 from West Bengal and two from Andhra Pradesh.
The BJP has dropped former Union minister B C Khanduri from Garhwal and former Uttarakhand chief minister Bhagat Singh Koshyari from Nanital with Tirath Singh Rawat and Ajay Bhatt replacing them respectively.
Union ministers Jitendra Singh and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore will contest from Udhampur and Jaipur Rural, the seat they represent in the Lok Sabha, respectively with Baijayant Jay Panda being fielded from Kendrapara in Odisha.
The list has been finalised after a series of meetings of the BJP's central election committee in which intense deliberations were held on which candidates to field from which constituency for the April-May Lok Sabha elections.
The saffron party's rival Congress has already released six lists for the national elections. The party, which is trying to stitch an alliance of opposition parties against the Modi government, released its sixth list on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, the BJP released a list of 17 candidates for the assembly elections in two states - six for Arunachal Pradesh and 11 for Sikkim.
The counting of votes will take place on May 23.