On the auspicious occasion of Shivratri, the BJP released its first list of candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections with as many as 54 names from Maharashtra, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha and Arunachal Pradesh.

The BJP’s Central Election Committee met on Thursday evening to put its stamp of approval on the party’s tie-up with Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and finalise candidates from areas that are more or less non-controversial.

The party finalised 15 candidates from Maharashtra with its former president Nitin Gadkari being fielded from Nagpur, senior leader Gopinath Munde from Beed and Kirit Somaiya from North East Mumbai.

Seventeen seats from West Bengal were finalised along with all five seats of Jammu and Kashmir, six from Odisha and a handful from Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Goa. Former MPs Kiren Rijiju and Tapir Gao were fielded from Arunachal West and Arunachal East respectively.

Significantly, no candidate was announced from any of the 80 seats of the politically critical state of Uttar Pradesh. What was also clear was that the BJP had not yet taken a final call on where its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will contest from. Modi is believed to be keen on contesting from Varanasi from where senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi had won in 2009. The party is trying to convince Joshi to switch to Kanpur but Joshi had apparently not agreed. Joshi wants to contest from Varanasi this time round as well.

Party president Rajnath Singh too is believed to be keen on switching his seat from Ghaziabad to the prestigious Lucknow from where the BJP’s tallest leader Atal Behari Vajpayee had once contested and won. Similarly the names of Uma Bharati from Jhansi, former UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh from Etah, Yogi Adityanath from Gorakhpur and Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh from Balrampur were being talked about.

(This article was published on February 27, 2014)
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