The Election Commission has indicated that the next parliamentary poll will not be held before April, perhaps in May, but the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday decided to pick its candidates before the end of this month.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the party's parliamentary board.
Sources disclosed that it was at the behest of BJP's prime ministerial hopeful L.K. Advani that the candidates would be finalised so early. He had earlier made this point during the party's core committee meeting in Shimla on Monday.
“Advaniji wants to launch the party's campaign early and plans to start his tour of at least 200 constituencies at the earliest,” a party source told IANS. The candidates would also have ample time to prepare.
The BJP had announced as early as November 11 its list of 11 candidates, including party president Rajnath Singh, from Uttar Pradesh, while names of three others were announced one month prior to this. This included L.K. Advani's candidature from Gandhinagar in Gujarat.
BJP general secretary Arun Jaitely told reporters after the parliamentary board meeting that the party's central election committee would meet for three days beginning Jan 19 to finalise the candidates.
There would be another meeting Jan 28 and 29. Jaitely said: “Almost all the candidates would be decided by the end of the month.”
The sole criterion of selecting candidates would be their victory prospects and image, sources said.
This was why several party bigwigs, like party chief Rajnath Singh, national vice presidents Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Kalyan Singh besides former union ministers Murli Manohar Joshi and Maneka Gandhi, would be fielded from Uttar Pradesh, which has the highest 80 Lok Sabha seats among all states.
Jaitely said the parliamentary board also discussed Friday the party's manifesto, electoral strategy and poll alliances in different states.