New Delhi: The BJP announced its first list of 184 candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections on Thursday. While the saffron party has made some major changes in states like Chattisgarh and Assam, it has played safe in Hindi heartland states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
In the desert state, where the BJP has announced candidates for 16 seats out of a total 25, the party has not tinkered much with the formula that worked in 2014, and repeated most of the sitting parliamentarians and union ministers from their incumbent seats.
Union minister of state in the ministry of water resources, river development & Ganga rejuvenation and parliamentary affairs Arjun Meghwal will contest from Bikaner again. The former chief whip for the BJP in the 16th Lok Sabha, Meghwal, has been elected as an MP from Bikaner for two terms running.
Minister of State (Independent charge) for ministry of youth affairs and sports, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, has been fielded from Jaipur Rural again and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, minister of state for agriculture and farmers welfare, is seeking re-election from Jodhpur seat, a region considered to be a stronghold for Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot.
There are reports that Gehlot's son Vaibhav might get a ticket from Jaipur, thus setting up a contest with Meghwal.
Former CM Vasundhara Raje's son Dushyant Singh is looking for a third term as an MP from Jhalawar-Baran constituency and PP Chaudhary, union minister of state for the law and justice and the ministry of corporate affairs, is contesting from Pali seat again.
A few notable omissions are incumbent MP Santosh Ahlawat from Jhunjhunu, who has been replaced by Narendra Khichar, who is an MLA from Mandawa assembly constituency in Jhunjhunu region.
BJP has also fielded a new candidate in Bhagirath Chaudhary, former MLA from Kishangarh, from the important Ajmer constituency, which the party lost to Congress' Raghu Sharma in bypolls last year.