BJP first list: Modi will seek re-election from Varanasi, Amit Shah replaces Advani from Gandhinagar

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will fight the Lok Sabha election from Varanasi, the seat he won in 2014 Lok Sabha poll, and BJP president Amit Shah will contest from Gandhinagar in Gujarat as the party announced the names of 184 candidates for Lok Sabha poll on Thursday.

Amit Shah will fight the Lok Sabha poll for the first time and he will replace veteran BJP leader L K Advani from Gandhinagar constituency.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari will contest from Lucknow and Nagpur respectively. The first list of BJP was announced by Union Minister J P Nadda at a press conference.

Union Minister Smriti Irani is set to once again challenge Congress president Rahul Gandhi from Amethi, believed to be a bastion of Gandhis. Smriti had contested unsuccessfully against Rahul from Amethi 2014.

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The BJP has also shown trust in Union ministers V K Singh, Mahesh Sharma, Kiren Rijiju, D V Sadananda Gowda and Babul Supriyo as all these heavyweight leaders have got the tickets from seats which they had won in 2014. Singh will contest from Ghaziabad, Sharma from Gautam Buddha Nagar, Rijiju from Arunachal West, Gowda from Bengalore North and Supriyo from Asansol.

The party released the names of 28 candidates from Uttar Pradesh and denied tickets to six sitting MPs. The MPs who were not given tickets include Union minster Krishna Raj from Shahjahanpur and Agra MP Ram Shankar Katheria. Raj is also the head of Scheduled Caste (SC) Commission. Hema Malini has been renominated from Mathura.

The BJP is facing stiff challenge from the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh and sources claim that the party may drop some more sitting MPs in the coming days as it announces the name of candidates from remaining 50 seats. Uttar Pradesh has a total of 80 Lok Sabha seats, out of which BJP has given two seats to its ally Apna Dal.

Nadda also informed the reporters that the names of all 17 party candidates from Bihar have been finalised and the list has been sent to the state unit. He added that the list will be released jointly with BJP allies – JD(U) and Lok Janshakti Party.

Sources said that Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is in the running to get ticket from Patna Sahib and Giriraj Singh is likely to contest from Begusarai.

In the first list of 184 candidates, 16 are from Maharashtra, eight from Assam, two from Arunachal Pradesh, five from Chhatisgarh and Jammu and Kashmir each, 21 from Karnataka, 13 from Kerala, 10 from Odisha, 16 from Rajasthan, five from Tamil Nadu, 10 from Telangana, five from Uttarakhand, 28 from West Bengal and two from Andhra Pradesh.

Former Union minister B C Khanduri has been dropped from Garhwal. Former Uttarakhand chief minister Bhagat Singh Koshyari has also not got ticket this time.

Union ministers Jitendra Singh and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore will enter the fray as BJP candidate from Udhampur and Jaipur Rural respectively. Former BJD MP Baijayant Jay Panda, who had joined BJP few days ago, has got ticket from Kendrapara in Odisha.

The polling for Lok Sabha election will be held on April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19 and counting is scheduled to take place on May 23.

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