Modi to contest from Varanasi, Shah replaces Advani in Gandhinagar

Poornima Joshi New Delhi | Updated on March 21, 2019

PM Narendra Modi with Senior BJP leader LK Advani. File photo   -  File photo

BJP declares 182 candidates in first list; set to edge out Old Guard

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will once again contest from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh along with BJP President Amit Shah, who will contest his first Lok Sabha election by replacing LK Advani as a candidate from Gandhinagar. Advani is the sitting MP from Gandhinagar and the declaration of Shah as the BJP candidate from this seat means that the ruling party is not keen on fielding the Old Guard although Murli Manohar Joshi has been clear that he wants to contest again from Kanpur. He is reportedly being asked to shift to Bhadoi in eastern UP.

Besides edging out the veterans, the other takeaway from BJP’s announcement of its first list of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls on Thursday night was that the party is fielding all the top Union Ministers from where they contested the polls in 2014 – Rajnath Singh from Lucknow, Nitin Gadkari from Nagpur and Smriti Irani from Amethi. Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh has been fielded again from Ghaziabad and Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma from Gautam Budh Nagar.

The first list contained the names of 182 candidates across Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Sikkim and Rajasthan. All the 17 names for Bihar have also been cleared, said Union Minister J P Nadda, but they will be declared jointly by the NDA, which includes JD(U) that is contesting 17 seats, and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), which is contesting six of Bihar’s 40 seats.

Not much time

It has been an anxious time for candidates in the first phase of elections on April 11 for which the last date of filing nominations is March 25. That leaves very little time, and even till Thursday night when JP Nadda released the list at the BJP headquarters, not all candidates for the first phase of elections had been announced. For instance, there are eight seats in Uttar Pradesh for the first phase – Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Kairana, Bijnor, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar.

The BJP’s Central Election Committee (CEC) has met for three consecutive days – March 18, 19 and 20 – but still, some seats were still undecided and party sources said that there would be changes in the names that had already been announced.

In Kairana, for instance, former MP and Gujjar strongman Hukum Singh’s daughter Mriganka Singh had been fielded in the bypoll held last year after Hukum Singh passed away. Mriganka, however, lost to Tabassum Hasan who is now the Mahagathbandhan candidate from this seat. The party had not declared any candidate from this seat till late Thursday night.

Published on March 21, 2019

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