Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek re-election from Varanasi, his parliamentary seat ,while BJP chief Amit Shah will contest the Lok Sabha elections for the first time from Gandhinagar, where LK Advani is the sitting MP, announced the saffron party on Thursday in its first list of 184 candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Read in Tamil, Malayalam, Bengali
In the first list, 16 candidates 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.
Watch: BJP holds discussion on LS seats in UP, WB at CEC meeting
In Uttar Pradesh, six sitting MPs have been denied ticket, including Union minister Krishna Raj from Shahjahanpur, former Union Minister Ram Shankar Katheria from Agra, and Chaudhary Babulal from Fatehpur Sikri. The BJP has also dropped former Union minister B C Khanduri from Garhwal and former Uttarakhand chief minister Bhagat Singh Koshyari from Nanital with Tirath Singh Rawat and Ajay Bhatt replacing them respectively.
Addressing a press conference, Union Minister JP Nadda further said Home Minister Rajnath Singh will contest from Lucknow while Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari will seek re-election from Nagpur.
Amethi will again see a contest between Union Minister Smriti Irani and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, who defeated the BJP leader in the 2014 polls by a margin of 1.07 lakh votes.
Union ministers VK Singh, Mahesh Sharma, Kiren Rijiju, Jitendra Singh will fight from Ghaziabad, Noida, Arunachal West and Udhampur respectively. Poonam Mahajan will seek re-election from Mumbai North Central constituency.
In West Bengal, where the BJP has set itself a target of winning 22 of the 42 seats, Union Minister Babul Supriyo will seek re-election from Asansol, while Anupam Hazra, who defected to BJP from TMC last week, has been fielded from Jadavpur. Hazra had won the 2014 election from Bolpur in West Bengal.
In Kerala, the BJP has pitted Kummanam Rajasekharan against Congress veteran Shashi Tharoor from Thiruvananthapuram.
Earlier in the day, the saffron party declared candidates for the remaining six seats for the upcoming Assembly elections in Arunachal Pradesh.
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On Sunday, the party had declared candidates for the 123 Assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh and 54 in Arunachal Pradesh. Chief minister Pema Khandu will contest the elections from the Mukto Vidhan Sabha constituency.
The BJP also announced the names of 12 candidates for the 32-member Sikkim assembly. Both Sikkim and Arunachal go to polls to elect a new assembly on April 11.
Last week, BJP said it would not field any of its sitting MPs or candidates who lost the 2018 assembly elections in Chhattisgarh for the Lok Sabha polls in the state, signalling a shift in tactics.
Meanwhile, the Congress has already come out with six lists of 146 candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi will contest from her bastion of Rae Bareli.
Interestingly, senior leader and five-time MP KV Thomas did not make it to the list of 12 candidates announced by the Congress for Kerala.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP achieved an absolute majority, winning 282 seats out of 543. Along with its allies, the NDA had a cumulative strength of 336. The Congress’ strength was down to 44, its worst performance in general elections.
Amit Shah underlines power shift in BJP
Amit Shah's decision to not contest 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections and his entry to Rajya Sabha was a clear signal inside the party that he is no longer interested in state politics. The decision to contest Lok Sabha is a signal of his larger ambition in national politics. It also marks the end of the electoral career of party veteran L K Advani and heralds the rising grip of the third generation of party leaders in the BJP.
The Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases, beginning from April 11 and concluding on May 19. Assembly elections to Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and Andhra Pradesh will be held simultaneously. Results will be declared on May 23. The polling will be held on April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19 for 543 Lok Sabha seats across the country in which nearly 90 crore voters would be eligible to vote.