Business Standard

BJP’S 1st list of LS candidates: Of continuity and winnabilit­y

The party is refielding 108 MPS in the list of 195 but there are a few who have been denied ticket. ARCHIS MOHAN explains what has changed and what hasn’t


The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced its candidates for 195 Lok Sabha constituen­cies across 16 states and Union Territorie­s, including 151 seats that the party had previously won in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The party’s focus is on “winnabilit­y”, and as such, it has fielded 108 of its sitting MPS.

In 2019, the BJP had dropped 99 of its 268 sitting MPS (of the 282 seats it won in 2014, a few were lost in by-elections over the following five years).

The BJP has also accommodat­ed recent imports from other parties due to the “winnabilit­y” factor. They include Kripashank­ar Singh, a former Congress leader from Maharashtr­a, who has been fielded from Uttar Pradesh's Jaunpur. Other notable names include Geeta Kora (Singhbhum, from the Congress), Jyoti Mirdha (Nagaur, from the Congress), Ritesh Pandey (Ambedkar Nagar, from the Bahujan Samaj Party), and B B Patil (Zaheerabad; from the Bharat Rashtra Samithi).

Kripashank­ar joined the BJP in July 2021, at a time when central probe agencies were investigat­ing a case of disproport­ionate assets against him. Kora, the wife of former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Kora, Pandey, and others have joined the party recently.

At the same time, the BJP has denied party tickets to several Union Ministers and MPS, including Meenakshi Lekhi, John Barla, Pragya Singh Thakur, Ramesh Bidhuri, and Jayant Sinha. Ten of the sitting MPS denied tickets had won the Assembly polls in Chhattisga­rh, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh in December 2023 and subsequent­ly quit their Lok Sabha membership­s.

A day after the BJP declared its list, its Asansol candidate, Bhojpuri singer Pawan Singh, expressed his inability to contest from the constituen­cy. This came after the Trinamool Congress launched a social media campaign against him, labelling his songs and videos as “sexist”, “misogynist”, and insulting to Bengali women. The controvers­y has arisen against the backdrop of the BJP’S preparatio­ns to mark Internatio­nal Women's Day on March 8 and organise political rallies to highlight alleged sexual harassment of women in North 24 Parganas’ Sandeshkha­li by Trinamool leaders.

On Sunday, former Health Minister Harsh Vardhan announced his retirement from electoral politics on X. The BJP has replaced him with Praveen Khandelwal, from the Confederat­ion of All India Traders, for the Chandni Chowk seat in Delhi. Harsh Vardhan won from Chandni Chowk in 2014 and 2019.

In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has announced its candidates for 51 seats. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will contest from Varanasi, and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will contest from Lucknow. The BJP won 44 of these seats in 2019, and later two more — Azamgarh and Rampur — in Lok Sabha bypolls. The party is yet to announce candidates for 29 seats, including Pilibhit and Sultanpur, which were represente­d by Maneka Gandhi and her son Varun in 2014 and 2019, and Kaiserganj, represente­d by Wrestling Federation of India ex-president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

In the list for UP, the BJP has not replaced any of the 46 sitting MPS. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the party did not repeat its candidates on 20 seats in UP, including senior leaders Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, and Kalraj Mishra. Notably, actor Hema Malini will again contest from Mathura, despite crossing the BJP'S unwritten rule of not fielding those above 75 years. Other highlights include the party fielding Saket Misra, son of former principal secretary to the prime minister Nripendra Misra, from Shravasti.

In Delhi, the BJP has announced its candidates for five of the seven seats, deciding to drop four of its sitting MPS, including Lekhi. The New Delhi seat, held by the two-term MP, will now be contested by Bansuri Swaraj, a lawyer and the daughter of the late Sushma Swaraj.

In Kerala’s Pathanamth­itta, the BJP has fielded Anil Antony, son of the former Defence Minister and Congress leader A K Antony. Of its 195 candidates, the party has fielded its lone Muslim candidate Abdul Salam from Malappuram, as part of its outreach to Christians and Muslims in the state.

In Assam, the BJP has replaced five sitting MPS and re-nominated four. Meanwhile, in Chhattisga­rh, the party has announced candidates for all 11 seats. It had won nine seats in the state in 2019, and of those, only two MPS have been repeated. In Gujarat, the BJP has announced 15 candidates, replacing five and re-nominating 10. In Jharkhand, the party has announced 11 candidates, including on nine sitting seats, replacing only two of its sitting MPS, including Hazaribagh MP Jayant Sinha.

In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has announced 24 candidates for the state’s 29 seats, where it had won 28 five years back. The party has repeated 12 sitting MPS and replaced 12. In Rajasthan, the BJP has announced 15 candidates, repeating eight and replacing six sitting MPS.

 ?? FILE PHOTO: PTI ?? Workers celebrate after the BJP announced that PM Narendra Modi will contest again from Varanasi in the 2024 LS polls
FILE PHOTO: PTI Workers celebrate after the BJP announced that PM Narendra Modi will contest again from Varanasi in the 2024 LS polls

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