The BJP on Thursday announced its first list of candidates for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, putting forth 184 names including some of its biggest leaders. Here are five reasons why the BJP's list constitutes a massive display of front-footedness ahead of the polls:
The list of 184 candidates has a massive 130 names more than the corresponding first list from the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. By announcing a big first list, the BJP has already put the Congress on the back foot, with the Rahul Gandhi-led party still meandering in the search of alliances and having been rejected by the SP and BSP, among others.
The BJP hasn't shied away from making some really big decisions. Smriti Irani will contest against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi once again in what is likely to be the showpiece fight of the 2019 elections. LK Advani, tantamount to being one of the BJP's founding fathers, hasn't been given the ticket to the Gandhinagar constituency that he has held for almost two decades. Instead, a literal change of guard is on offer with BJP president Amit Shah contesting from Gujarat's capital city.
Amit Shah contesting the elections despite already being a Rajya Sabha member as well as the chief of the BJP is in sharp contrast to what is being witnessed elsewhere, such as in Uttar Pradesh where Mayawati has decided against contesting the Lok Sabha elections in the larger interest of her party. By taking the elections head-on despite being under the pressure of emulating LK Advani, the BJP party president will steer his party into the 2019 polls by leading right from the front.
The Prime Minister will once again contest from Varanasi where in 2014 he had defeated Arvind Kejriwal by a massive 3.7 lakh votes. He had also contested from Vadodara where he had won by the second-highest margin in Lok Sabha elections history. This time, he is likely to also have to face Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad who has already expressed intent to use the Dalit card, whereas the Congress has already tried sending its trump card Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to Varanasi. While the PM will once again seek the popular mandate, in comparison, the Congress didn't let former PM Dr Manmohan Singh contest the Lok Sabha elections for each of the three elections between 2004 and 2014. Instead, he has remained a Rajya Sabha member from Assam since 1991.
The BJP has fielded a massive 21 sitting ministers in its first list, as well as party chief Amit Shah. The strategy in this case is clear - it is the Modi government that is seeking a mandate, not just the Prime Minister. However, while a number of ministers have retained the same seats that they contested from in 2014, others, such as Satya Pal Singh have seen their constituencies changed. The MoS HRD will contest from Baghpat whereas Parmeshwar Lal Saini will contest form the earlier constituency of Sambhal. A possible reason for this is Satya Pal Singh's performance in Parliament in the last five years, having participated in just 21 debates while the state average was 109. His replacement, Saini, joined the BJP from the BSP in 2015.
Here are the ministers who are in the fray: