BJP fields 71% of its sitting MPs in list of 195 Lok Sabha candidates | Lok Sabha Elections News

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s first list of 195 Lok Sabha candidates, released Saturday evening, focused on the winnability of candidates, including fielding its recent imports from other parties and dropping the ones whose performance or conduct it found wanting.

BJP sources said the party conducted extensive surveys and took feedback, such as on the NaMo App, in candidate selection in its bid to win 370 Lok Sabha seats and 400 seats for the National Democratic Alliance that it leads.

Of the 195, the BJP announced candidates on 152 seats it won in 2019 and 43 it lost, including those in Kerala and Telangana.

Of the 152, the BJP repeated 108 candidates, or 71 per cent, and replaced 44 of its sitting MPs.

Those repeated include Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will contest from Varanasi; Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who will again contest from Lucknow; and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who will be the BJP’s Gandhinagar candidate.

Those replaced include the ten who had contested and won the Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh in December 2023, but subsequently quit their Lok Sabha memberships.

Those dropped include Union Minister and New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi, Hazaribagh MP Jayant Sinha, Bhopal MP Pragya Singh Thakur, and South Delhi MP Ramesh Bidhuri.

Of the 195, the BJP said it was fielding 28 women (14.35 per cent), 47 youth (24 per cent), that is those below 50 years of age, 27 from Scheduled Castes (14 per cent), 18 from Scheduled Tribes (9.23 per cent) and 57 from Other Backward Classes (29.23 per cent).

The list also included 34 ministers, including Bhupender Yadav, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, V Muraleedharan, Parshottam Rupala, Mansukh Mandaviya, and others, who until now were Rajya Sabha members. Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will contest from Vidisha.

Notably, the BJP announced candidates for 51 of Uttar Pradesh’s 80 seats, not replacing even one of its sitting MPs, while fielding recent imports, such as Ritesh Pandey, formerly of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), from the Ambedkar Nagar seat. Pandey, who won the seat in 2019, joined the BJP recently.

Saturday’s list did not include candidates from Bihar, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Andhra Pradesh, where the BJP is negotiating seat-sharing agreements with current and potential allies.

In Delhi, the BJP announced candidates on five of the seven seats, dropping four of its sitting MPs, including Lekhi. It replaced the two-term MP from the New Delhi seat with lawyer Bansuri Swaraj, daughter of the late Sushma Swaraj.

Earlier in the day, BJP’s East Delhi MP, former international cricketer Gautam Gambhir, announced his retirement from electoral politics, as did its two-term Hazaribagh MP Jayant Sinha. The BJP has yet to announce a candidate for the seat that Gambhir held but declared the candidate on the Hazaribagh seat that Sinha and his father, Yashwant Sinha, have represented since 1998, barring only 2009.

The party has fielded Geeta Koda, wife of former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda, from Singhbhum. She won the seat as a Congress candidate in 2019 and crossed over to the BJP last week.

Interestingly, actor Hema Malini will again contest from Mathura. A two-term MP from Mathura, Malini turned 75 in October 2023, crossing the BJP’s unwritten rule of not fielding those above 75. It underlined the BJP’s risk-averse strategy for the Lok Sabha polls and focus on winnability.

Other highlights were the party fielding Saket Mishra, son of former principal secretary to the Prime Minister Nripendra Misra, from Uttar Pradesh’s Shravasti. Nripendra Misra oversaw the construction of Ayodhya’s Ram temple. The BJP lost the Shravasti seat in 2019.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan will contest from Vidisha. He represented Vidisha in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2004 before becoming the Madhya Pradesh CM in 2005.

The BJP fielded Anil Antony, former Defence Minister and Congress leader A K Antony’s son, from Kerala’s Pathanamthitta. Of its 195 candidates, the party fielded its lone Muslim candidate from Kerala, Abdul Salam from Malappuram. The BJP has reached out to Christians and Muslims in the state to secure its first Lok Sabha win there.

The BJP fielded Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar from Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram, which Congress’ Shashi Tharoor has represented since 2009. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will contest from Porbandar. It fielded Union ministers Bhupender Yadav from Rajasthan’s Alwar, Parshottam Rupala from Gujarat’s Rajkot, and V Muraleedharan from Kerala’s Attingal.

Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia will contest from Guna. He is currently a Rajya Sabha MP. Scindia lost the Guna seat to the BJP’s KP Yadav, who used to be Scindia’s aide, in 2019.

Another Union Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, will contest from Dibrugarh, with the BJP dropping its sitting MP. Sonowal, a former Assam Chief Minister, is a Rajya Sabha MP and won the Dibrugarh seat as an Asom Gana Parishad candidate in 2004.

The BJP fielded Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT)’s Praveen Khandelwal from Chandni Chowk, dropping former Union Health Minister and sitting MP Harsh Vardhan. Khandelwal had unsuccessfully contested on a BJP ticket from the Chandni Chowk Assembly seat in the 2008 Delhi Assembly polls earlier.

For Assam’s 14 seats, the BJP announced candidates on 11 seats. It will likely allocate the remaining three seats to its allies. In 2019, the BJP won nine of the 14 seats. In the list announced on Saturday, the BJP replaced five sitting MPs and re-nominated four from the northeastern state.

In Chhattisgarh, the BJP announced candidates for all 11 seats. It won nine seats in the state in 2019. Of the nine, only two MPs have been repeated, those of Rajnandgaon and Durg, with the BJP fielding different candidates in seven of its sitting seats than those who won five years back. Of the seven, three MPs contested the Chhattisgarh Assembly elections in December 2023 and quit after they were elected to the state legislative assembly.

In Delhi, where the BJP won all seven seats in 2019, the BJP announced five candidates. It dropped four of its sitting MPs.

The BJP announced 15 candidates in Gujarat, replacing five and re-nominating ten. It won all 26 seats in the state in 2019.

In Jharkhand, the BJP announced 11 candidates, including on nine sitting seats, replacing only two of its sitting MPs, including Hazaribagh MP Jayant Sinha.

In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP announced 24 candidates for the state’s 29 seats, where it had won 28 five years back. The BJP has repeated 12 sitting MPs and replaced 12, including Narendra Singh Tomar, who contested and won the December 2023 Assembly polls and subsequently quit the Lok Sabha.

In Rajasthan, the BJP announced 15 candidates, repeating eight and replacing six sitting MPs. In 2019, the BJP supported Rashtriya Loktantrik Party’s Hanuman Beniwal from the Nagaur seat. Beniwal won but exited the National Democratic Alliance after the 2020-21 farm protests. The BJP has fielded former Congress leader Jyoti Mirdha from the Nagaur seat.

In Telangana, the BJP has fielded its sitting MPs and also the sitting Bharat Rashtra Samithi MP from Zahirabad, who recently joined the party. In West Bengal, the BJP has fielded Pavan Singh, a Bhojpuri singer, from Asansol.

Its North East Delhi MP Manoj Tiwari, Gorakhpur MP Ravi Kishan, and Azamgarh MP Dinesh Lal Yadav ‘Nirahua’, all of whom have been fielded again, are also Bhojpuri film actors.

It has also fielded its Bengal leader Suvendu Adhikari’s brother Soumendu from the Kanthi seat.

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