Business Standard

BJP fields Neeraj Shekhar from Ballia, drops Kher and Joshi

- ARCHIS MOHAN New Delhi, 10 April

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday denied tickets to its two-term Chandigarh Lok Sabha member Kirron Kher and Prayagraj MP Rita Bahuguna Joshi, while fielding Neeraj Shekhar, Rajya Sabha member and the son of former prime minister Chandra Shekhar, from Ballia in Uttar Pradesh. The party released its 10th list of candidates for the Lok Sabha elections.

From UP’S Machhlisha­hr, the BJP re-nominated its incumbent MP BP Saroj, who in 2019 won with the lowest margin of votes in the country (181 votes). In Ballia, Neeraj replaces BJP’S four-term sitting MP Virendra Singh. Neeraj’s father was the Ballia MP from 1977 to 2004, losing only in 1984 during that period.

Neeraj won the by-election from Ballia as a Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate in 2008 after his father’s death and again in 2009. The SP sent him to the Rajya Sabha after he lost in 2014. He joined the BJP in 2019.

The BJP’S tenth list comprises nine candidates, seven from UP and one each from Chandigarh and West Bengal. The BJP currently holds six of the nine seats. Of the six, it dropped four of its sitting MPS, including Singh, Kher, Joshi and Phulpur MP Keshri Devi Patel. The BJP is yet to announce its candidates from five UP seats, including Rae Bareli and Kaiserganj, which is currently held by former Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

From Asansol, the party has named S S Ahluwalia as its candidate. Ahluwalia is the incumbent MP from Bardhamand­urgapur, on which the BJP has already announced the candidatur­e of Dilip Ghosh. The BJP had earlier announced the name of Bhojpuri singer Pawan Singh from Asansol, who withdrew from the fight after a controvers­y erupted over the purported vulgar depiction of women in his songs.

Ahluwalia will contest against TMC’S sitting MP Shatrughan Sinha. The actorturne­d-politician won the Asansol by-poll in 2022 after Babul Supriyo, who won from the seat in 2019, quit the BJP to join the TMC. Ahluwalia represente­d Darjeeling in the 2014 Lok Sabha.

From Chandigarh, the BJP has fielded its Chandigarh unit chief Sanjay Tandon. From UP’S Ghazipur, the BJP has named Paras Nath Rai against the SP’S Afzal Ansari, the brother of gangster-politician Mukhtar Ansari, who recently passed away. In the 2019 elections, Ansari contested from Ghazipur on a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ticket and defeated BJP’S Manoj Sinha, the current Lt Governor of Jammu and Kashmir.

The BJP has fielded Niraj Tripathi from Allahabad in place of Rita Joshi. Jaiveer Singh Thakur has been fielded from Mainpuri to take on the SP’S Dimple Yadav, who is seeking another term in the Lok Sabha. The BJP has named Praveen Patel from the Phulpur seat in Uttar Pradesh, replacing sitting MP Keshari Devi Patel. The party’s MP Vinod Sonkar will defend his Kaushambi seat.

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