PM Modi, Amit Shah, ministers among big guns in BJP’s 1st list of 195 | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Lok Sabha polls: PM Modi, Amit Shah, ministers among big guns in BJP’s 1st list of 195

Mar 03, 2024 04:25 AM IST

PM Modi to contest polls from Varanasi, BJP releases first list of 195 candidates. Focus on social engineering with representation for marginalized groups.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls from Varanasi, the constituency he currently represents, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced on Saturday as it released its first list of candidates for this summer’s national elections.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home minister Amit Shah. (File)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home minister Amit Shah. (File)

“I thank the BJP leadership and bow to the crores of selfless Party Karyakartas for their constant faith in me. I look forward to serving my sisters and brothers of Kashi for the third time,” Modi said in a series of posts on X, formerly Twitter.

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“I am sure that the 140 crore people of India will bless us yet again and give us even more strength in fulfilling their aspirations and creating a Viksit Bharat,” he said.

In the list of 195 candidates, the BJP named 34 Union ministers and ministers of state, including home minister Amit Shah, who will return to his constituency of Gandhinagar in Gujarat, defence minister Rajnath Singh who will contest from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, and women and child development minister Smriti Irani who will contest from Amethi, UP, where she defeated senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in 2019.

Also Read | PM Narendra Modi's message after party announces 1st list: 'Bow to crores...'

“The names of 195 candidates have been finalised… The party has announced the list keeping all communities in focus,” said BJP leader Vinod Tawde, addressing the media in Delhi.

The list has been drawn from 16 states and two Union territories keeping the party’s social engineering formula in focus to give representation to castes that are socially and economically marginalised.

Of the 195, 28 are women, a constituency that is crucial to the BJP’s electoral success and has been credited for the party’s performance in a clutch of states. The list also includes 27 names from the Scheduled Castes (SC), 18 from the Scheduled Tribes (ST), 57 from Other Backward Classes (OBC), and 47 youth candidates (below 50 years of age).

“The first list has candidates from 16 states, but if you look at the representation it is all-India. The party has given political representation to people from deprived sections, it has also bet on winnable candidates,” said a senior party leader on the selection.

Also Read | No major surprises as Modi leads BJP’s first list of 51 in U.P.

In the last decade since it came to power at the Centre, the BJP government’s social welfare policies were designed with specific focus to empower these three social groups in addition to women, youth and farmers. The PM, in the past, referred to these groups as the five castes.

The Union ministers fielded by the BJP included Jyotiraditya Scindia from Guna, Mansukh Mandaviya from Porbandar, V Muraleedharan from Attingal, Rajeev Chandrasekhar from Thiruvananthapuram, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat from Jodhpur, Bhupender Yadav from Alwar and Arjun Ram Meghwal from Bikaner.

“I’m very honoured and excited. After 18 years of public life and serving in Rajya Sabha, this is the first opportunity that I have got to contest in the Lok Sabha. The Prime Minister, the Home Minister and our party president have chosen to field me as their candidate in the capital of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram the state I belong to, the state my family belongs to,” Chandrasekhar told news agency ANI.

The announced names included those for 51 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 20 in West Bengal and five in Delhi.

The list saw major changes for Delhi with Ramesh Bidhuri, Parvesh Verma, Meenakshi Lekhi and Harsh Vardhan dropped from their respective seats, while Sadhvi Pragya Thakur was dropped from her Bhopal seat.

Bansuri Swaraj, daughter of the late BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, will make her poll debut from the New Delhi seat, Kamaljeet Sehrawat will contest from the from West Delhi, MLA Ramvir Singh Bidhuri from South Delhi, and Praveen Khadelwal from Chandni Chowk, while Manoj Tiwari has been retained from the North East Delhi constituency.

Commenting on the changes in Delhi, a second party functionary said, “There is a possibility of these senior leaders being roped in for Delhi assembly polls, to give heft to the party’s state cadre. The party used the same formula for Madhya Pradesh where Union ministers and lawmakers were sent to contest assembly polls last year.” The second leader was referring to senior leaders such as Kailash Vijayvargia, Narendra Singh Tomar, Rakesh Singh and Pralhad Patel being sent to MP to contest assembly polls.

The party has fielded Alok Sharma, a former mayor, from Bhopal in place of Thakur, who is an accused in the Malegaon blasts case and has courted controversy many times through her provocative statements. Thakur defeated Congress stalwart Digvijaya Singh in 2019 by a margin of 365,000 votes.

Big states where at least 50% candidates will contest the same seat as in 2019 are Uttar Pradesh (46 of 51 retained), Gujarat (10 of 15 retained), Jharkhand (7 of 11 retained), West Bengal (11 of 20 retained), Rajasthan (8 of 15 retained), and Madhya Pradesh (12 of 24 retained). To be sure, these numbers do not account for a candidate from a different constituency being retained in the list announced Saturday or for MPs who won a seat previously in a by-election.

Announcing the list, Tawde, the BJP’s national general secretary, said the party is confident that it would form the government for the third term under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a much bigger mandate.

Modi has set a target for the BJP to win at least 370 seats on its own in these Lok Sabha elections and more than 400 for the NDA (National Democratic Alliance).

Of the 195 seats, the party had contested 193 by itself in 2019 and left two for allies: Kaliabor in Assam for the Asom Gana Parishad or AGP and Nagaur in Rajasthan for the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party or RLTP. To be sure, the Assam seats may not have the same boundaries as in 2019, as the state has undergone delimitation. The BJP won 151 of the 193 seats it contested, finished second in 24, and third in 18. Of the 18 such seats, 11 are in Kerala alone, five are in Telangana, and two in West Bengal.

The party also fielded three former chief ministers — Shivraj Singh Chouhan from Vidisha in MP, Sarbananda Sonowal from Dibrugarh in Assam and Biplab Deb from Tripura West constituency.

It also fielded Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla from Kota in Rajasthan.

“The party has decided to field someone like me. I have been given the opportunity to contribute my bit to this national redevelopment mission. The Viksit Bharat goal will be fulfilled under PM Modi. I will work towards fulfilling this goal,” Chouhan said.

To be sure, the 18 states and UTs where the BJP has announced 195 candidates had 304 seats in total in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections (when Dadra and Nagar Haveli had not been merged with Daman and Diu). Of these 304 seats, the BJP contested 291 and won 211, while the NDA won 215. This means that the overall seat share of the BJP and NDA in these 18 states and UTs was 69% and 71% in 2019 compared to 77% and 78% seat share in just the 195 seats where candidates were announced Saturday.

The high rate of success in the 195 seats in the 2019 elections means that the BJP has retained a majority of the candidates it fielded the last time. The list shows that the candidates in 114 of the 195 states (59%) are the same as in 2019; 106 of these 115 won the 2019 Lok Sabha election from that seat while eight lost. Among the 81 seats where the BJP/NDA candidates are not the same as in 2019, the BJP/NDA had won 46 in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. However, not all of the 46 winning candidates of 2019 may have been replaced for poor performance.

The names were announced following a marathon meeting of the party’s central election committee, which includes Modi, party president JP Nadda, Shah, Rajnath Singh, Bhupender Yadav, Yogi Adityanath, BL Santhosh and other senior leaders, on Thursday.

Following the announcement, Congress leader Pawan Khera said, “We did not understand what it meant when one after another BJP MPs were leaving their positions... But when the list came out, we saw that a lot of names were missing. The BJP leadership is not happy with the work done by them. Those MPs who did not get the ticket, who will answer about their 5 years?... Did PM Modi think that they will not win even with PM Modi’s name?”

The Election Commission is expected to announce the poll schedule later this month and the elections are likely to be held in April-May.

In 2019, the BJP announced its first list days after the commission announced the schedule of a seven-phase election; it comprised 184 names.

This time, however, the party has opted to announce the list well before the elections are declared, in what appears to be a bid to give candidates more time for outreach.

The experiment to announce candidates before the election date is announced was carried out during elections in a clutch of states including Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Telangana last year.

The BJP won 303 seats in the 2019 polls but currently it has 290 members in Lok Sabha for various reasons, including some MPs recently resigning after winning assembly polls.

(With inputs from Abhishek Jha)

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