New Delhi: Union Minister and BJP leader JP Nadda addresses a press conference in New Delhi on March 21, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
New Delhi (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi will fight again from his Varanasi constituency while BJP President Amit Shah will make his debut in Lok Sabha polls from Gandhinagar, BJP leader J.P. Nadda announced on Thursday.
The Gandhinagar seat is currently held by veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani, who has been winning the seat consecutively from 1998.
The BJP's Central Election Committee, after three marathon meetings on Thursday, issued its first list of 184 candidates, across 20 states and union territories.
The party has announced 28 candidates from Uttar Pradesh, including Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh, in the first list, while denying tickets to six sitting MPs, including a Union Minister.
Rajnath Singh will again contest from Lucknow while Union Ministers Gen. V.K. Singh (retd), Mahesh Sharma and Santosh Gangwar have been fielded from their respective constituencies - Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddha Nagar and Bareilly.
Union Minister Smriti Irani will again face Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, while film actress-turned politician Hema Malini will contest from her Mathura seat.
Former Union Minister Sanjeev Kumar Balyan will fight from his Muzaffarnagar seat against Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh, while Union Minister Satyapal Singh will again contest from his Baghpat seat against the RLD chief's son Jayant Chaudhary.
Union Minister Krishna Raj has been replaced in Shahjahanpur by Arun Sagar and Agra MP Ram Shankar Katheria by Uttar Pradesh Minister S.P. Baghel.
BJP chief Shah will contest the Lok Sabha polls for the first time. In 2017, he was elected to Rajya Sabha after a 20-year-long stint in Gujarat Assembly. He was also a minister in the Narendra Modi-led state government between 2002-2010.
The BJP, which has already announced that none of its 10 sitting MPs in Chhattisgarh will be repeated, finalised the names of five candidates from the state.
Among the other prominent leaders announced in the first list are Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari (Nagpur), Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (Jaipur Rural), D.V. Sadananda Gowda (Bengaluru North), Jitendra Singh (Jammu-Udhampur), Arjun Ram Meghwal (Bikaner), Pon Radhakrishnan (Kanniyakumari).
Late Union Minister H.N. Anantha Kumar's wife Tejaswini will fight from Bengaluru South seat.
In Rajasthan, 16 candidates have been announced and two sitting MPs denied ticket. Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal will again contest from Bikaner and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat from Jodhpur.
Former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's son Dushyant Singh has again been fielded from Jhalawar. The party has fielded new faces from Ajmer and Jhunjhunu.
In Maharashtra, the list includes sitting MPs - Union Ministers Hansraj Ahir (Chandrapur) and Subhash Bhamre (Dhule), Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha chief Poonam Mahajan (Mumbai North Central) and late Union Minister Gopinath Munde's daughter Pritam Munde (Beed).
Nadda also said that candidates for all the 17 seats it will contest in Bihar have been cleared by the party's Central Election Committee and sent to the state election panel. These will be announced subsequently, he said.
In Bengal, Union Minister Babul Supriyo will fight to retain his Asanol seat, where he will face Trinamool Congress's Moon Moon Sen, who has shifted from Bankura. The BJP has also fielded Bengali film actress Locket Chatterjee from Hooghly, State BJP chief Dilip Ghosh from Medinipore, Chandra Kumar Bose from Kolkata South and Rahul Sinha from Kolkata North.
The party has also fielded former Trinamool leaders Anupam Hazra, who will contest against film actress-turned-Trinamool candidate Mimi Chakraborty in Jadavpur, and Saumitra Khan in Bishnupur. Khagen Murmu, who switched over to the party from the Communist Party of India-Marxist, will face sitting MP Mausam Noor, who quit the Congress for the Trinamool, in Malda North.
The BJP also fielded Baijayant 'Jay' Panda, who had quit Odisha's ruling Biju Janata Dal to join it, from Kendrapara.
BJP's Kerala strongman Kummanam Rajasekharan, who recently quit as Mizoram Governor, will fight against Congress's Shashi Tharoor in Thiruvanthapuram, while Union Minister K.J. Alphons will contest from Ernakulam.
The BJP also fielded its Tamil Nadu unit chief Tamilisai Soundararajan from Thoothukudi from where DMK's K. Kanimozhi is contesting.
In Telangana, former Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya has been replaced in Secunderabad by former state unit chief G. Kishan Reddy, while Congress leader and former minister D. K. Aruna, who joined the BJP on Wednesday, was named as the candidate from Mahabubnagar.
Nadda, who had announced that Minister of State from Home Kiren Rijiju will contest from Arunanchal East, later corrected himself, saying he would be contesting again from Arunachal West.