In a surprise move, the BJP declared its first list of candidates — all sitting members of the present House — for the next Lok Sabha polls to signal a head start over its political rivals. It also sought to convey to its rank and file that it is expecting the elections earlier than May 2009 because of the UPA-Left tension over the Indo-US nuclear deal.
L.K. Advani, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, topped the list of six candidates announced after the party’s central election committees met on Thursday.
Advani, 80, was named as BJP nominee for Gandhinagar that he has won four times. Cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu and film star-turned politician Vinod Khanna, were named as nominees for Amritsar and Gurdaspur in Punjab respectively. Shripad Y. Naik will be BJP candidate for North Goa (Panaji). Himachal Chief Minister P.K. Dhummal’s son, Anurag Thakur, will contest from Hamirpur and Lt Gen T.P.S. Rawat, who vacated his assembly seat for Uttarakhand Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri, from Pauri Garhwal. Thakur and Rawat had won their seats in the by-polls held recently.
“The countdown to the end of the UPA rule has begun from today. Our prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani would be contesting from the Gandhinagar parliamentary seat,” BJP general secretary Anant Kumar said while releasing the list of names at the party headquarters here.
Venkaiah Naidu, who heads a BJP core group on election management, said five things that brought success in Karnataka would be tried out at the national level — early declaration of leader (Advani as PM candidate), timely declaration of candidates, early identification of key issue, quick preparation of manifesto and fast start to campaign.
The BJP plans to announce all seats by the end of August. The state units have been asked to send their inputs on candidate selection by then. Justifying the first list of names even though Lok Sabha elections are yet to be announced, Naidu said, “With this we announce the Sri Ganesh (beginning) of our Lok Sabha campaign.”