The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) late on Saturday held a meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, to shortlist candidates for the ensuing Lok Sabha elections.
The meeting of the BJP Central Election Committee (CEC) at the party's headquarters in Delhi that culminated at 2 am on Sunday was held to deliberate on candidates that the party will field in various constituencies in 11 states, according to sources. Union Ministers Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Kiren Rijiju were among those who attended the meet.
Bihar, Uttarakhand, Assam, Arunachal, Manipur, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir figured in the deliberations, sources said adding that candidates for seats in the states of North East and in south India were also discussed.
"In all these states seats have been left vacant in places where the BJP is not very strong to facilitate candidates from regional parties or other big party leaders who would support the party," sources said.
States that will go to polls on April 11 in the first phase of the upcoming seven-phase Lok Sabha elections are Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.
Sources also said that in Saturday's meeting there was no discussion on Uttar Pradesh, which has 80 parliamentary seats and where the BJP is still in talks with smaller parties to finalise seat sharing. The BJP won 71 seats in the state in the 2014 general election.
Amit Shah is likely to meet with the core committee of the party on Sunday too after which the BJP is expected to announce its first list of candidates, sources said.
The BJP Central Election Committee is likely to meet again on Monday and by March 22 the party may announce the list of all candidates, sources said.
Meanwhile the Congress released its fourth list of candidates on Saturday.