No major surprises as Modi leads BJP’s first list of 51 in U.P. - Hindustan Times
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No major surprises as Modi leads BJP’s first list of 51 in U.P.

Mar 02, 2024 10:32 PM IST

The party mostly backed the sitting MPs to subtly signal to a largely divided opposition that the BJP was confident of “pro-incumbency” under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stewardship.

Amid intense speculation, the BJP surprised all by not springing any major surprise on the list of 51 candidates for the Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh, naming about 60% of the candidates for the state’s 80 seats on Saturday.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National Vice President Baijayant Jay Panda with party General secretary Vinod Tawde and party leader Anil Baluni annoucing the party's first list of candidates for Lok Sabha polls, at party headquarters, in New Delhi on Saturday. (Sanjay Sharma/ ANI)
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National Vice President Baijayant Jay Panda with party General secretary Vinod Tawde and party leader Anil Baluni annoucing the party's first list of candidates for Lok Sabha polls, at party headquarters, in New Delhi on Saturday. (Sanjay Sharma/ ANI)

The party mostly backed the sitting MPs to subtly signal to a largely divided opposition that the BJP was confident of “pro-incumbency” under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stewardship.

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A majority of the sitting MPs on the list are OBCs and Dalits, showcasing the BJP’s continued focus on these numerically dominant castes, which have been the mainstays of the party’s phenomenal wins since 2014.

That the BJP retained a majority of its sitting MPs in U.P revealed that the ruling party, having engaged in psychological posturing by declaring it would win 68% of the total Lok Sabha seats (370/543) with 100% (80/80) backing from U.,P was now willing to “walk the talk” by mostly going with same set of faces who contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

“Modi hai toh sab mumkin hai (with Modi everything is possible),” said a senior BJP functionary when asked if the party wasn’t worried about “anti-incumbency” against its sitting MPs while entering a crucial election.

“Look at the Congress, our principal opponent nationally. Despite inking a 17-seat pact with Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, it is yet to name candidates in key battleground state of U.P. They are yet undecided even on Amethi,” said a senior Uttar Pradesh minister.

While Modi expectedly leads the list of heavyweights with a third consecutive nomination from Varanasi, defence minister Rajnath Singh will again recontest from Lucknow while Union minister Smriti Irani, who had recently “dared” Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to set up a 2019 rematch with her, has again been named the party candidate from Amethi, a Lok Sabha candidate from where, until 2019, the Congress had only lost twice.

For Jaunpur, Ambedkar Nagar and Shravasti, all seats where the BSP had won in 2019, the BJP has named new faces.

Former Congress leader and Maharashtra minister Kripa Shankar Singh has been fielded from Jaunpur where sitting BSP MP Shyam Singh Yadav is in talks with Congress. Former BSP MP turned BJP man Ritesh Pandey will contest from Ambedkar Nagar. BJP MLC Saket Mishra, son of Nripendra Mishra, the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Temple Construction Committee chairman, will seek election from Shravasti, where the BSP’s Ram Shiromani had won in 2019.

Nothing summed up the party’s confidence more than the fact that the BJP brushed aside all speculation to repose faith in the country’s junior home minister Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’ from Kheri.

Teni had been in the eye of a political storm after the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case of October 3, 2021, in which his son Ashish is an accused.

Ayodhya’s popular local leader Lalloo Singh found faith in the party’s scheme of things as he was repeated from Faizabad while veteran leader and Union minister Mahendra Nath Pandey, too, figured on the party’s list. From east to west and from Braj to Gorakhpur, it was the same story as virtually everyone has been repeated.

“Expect some surprises in the second list now,” a senior BJP functionary indicated.

Among the key seats to watch out for in the second list, likely to be released on March 6, are Rae Bareli (the only Lok Sabha seat which the Congress won in 2019), Pilibhit (Varun Gandhi) and Sultanpur (Maneka Gandhi). The BJP’s list includes five women – Rekha Verma (OBC, Dharuahra), Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti (OBC, Fatehpur), Neelam Sonkar (SC, Lalganj), Hema Malini (Mathura) and Smriti Irani (Amethi).

Asked for his comment on the BJP’s list, Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Ajay Rai said, “Our list, too, is almost ready and would be declared very soon. The BJP has its own way of doing things but we are confident that having seen through their antics, the people will make the BJP bite dust.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Manish Chandra Pandey is a Lucknow-based Senior Assistant Editor with Hindustan Times’ political bureau in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Along with political reporting, he loves to write offbeat/human interest stories that people connect with. Manish also covers departments. He feels he has a lot to learn not just from veterans, but also from newcomers who make him realise that there is so much to unlearn.

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