The BJP on Thursday announced its first list of candidates for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Here are the top 10 takeaways:
The BJP's first list contains 184 candidates including some of its biggest leaders such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party president Amit Shah, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Union Minister Smriti Irani and others. It covers seats from a number of states. Here's a break-up:
BJP party chief Amit Shah will be contesting the Lok Sabha elections for the first time, from the Gandhinagar constituency in Gujarat. Currently a Rajya Sabha member, Shah has earlier had personal electoral success in a number of Gujarat assembly elections, being an MLA for almost two decades till 2017 when he became an MP.
Amit Shah contesting from Gandhinagar means that BJP senior statesman LK Advani won't, thereby ending his own almost 2-decade-long run as Gandhinagar's MLA. It remains to be seen whether he is fielded from another seat.
BJP'S FIRST LIST OUT: BJP Releases First List Of 184 Candidates For 2019 Lok Sabha Elections. Here It Is
The showpiece contest of the 2014 elections is set for a re-run as Smriti Irani will once again take on Congress president Rahul Gandhi in his bastion Amethi. Five years ago, Rahul Gandhi had managed to win by securing 4 lakh votes to Smriti Irani's 3 lakh votes. The Union Minister has been a regular at Amethi since then and the contest promises to be every bit as thrilling as it was the last time.
Whether the candidate had won or lost in 2014, the BJP has in a number of cases refused to change its formula, with numerous big names once again contesting from the same seats. Notable among them are Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Varanasi), Rajnath Singh (Lucknow), Smriti Irani (Amethi), General VK Singh (Ghaziabad), Hema Malini (Mathura)
A very large number of ministers were named in the BJP's first list of 184 candidates. These include PM Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Roads Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari, Textiles Minister Smriti Irani, I&B and Sports Minister Col Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, MoS External Affairs General VK Singh, and others.
Chandra Kumar Bose, the grand-nephew of Netaji Shubhas Chandra Bose, will contest the Lok Sabha elections from Kolkata South. The BJP has made a big push in West Bengal over the last five years but is still likely to face an uphill battle in Mamata Banerjee's bastion.
Along with West Bengal, Kerala is viewed as the other 'final frontier' where the BJP has pulled all the stops in the last five years. In the 2019 elections, former Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan has been fielded from Thiruvananthapuram against Congress' Shashi Tharoor, while other strong candidates, including some who have jumped ship, have also been given tickets.
There are a number of BJP candidates who have only recently joined the party from other parties, including Jay Panda who will contest against his former BJD colleagues from Odisha's Kendrapara, Sujay Vikhe Patil who will contest from Maharashtra's Ahmednagar, and Umesh Jadhav who will contest from Karnataka's Gulbarga mostly against Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge.
By announcing a big first list, the BJP has already put the Congress on the back-seat, with the Rahul Gandhi-led party still meandering in the search of alliances and having been rejected by the SP and BSP, among others. In comparison, the BJP hasn't dithered from taking big decisions, whether it be the announcement of Amit Shah's candidature or any other.