The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has released its first list of 184 candidates for the Lok Sabha polls on Thursday (March 21) evening.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will once again contest from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, while BJP president Amit Shah has replaced Lal Krishna Advani from the Gandhinagar seat in Gujarat.
Advani is one of the senior most BJP leader and former deputy PM under the first National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will contest the elections from Lucknow and Nitin Gadkari is contesting from Nagpur.
VK Singh will contest from Ghaziabad, Hema Malini from Mathura, Sakshi Maharaj from Unnao, and Smriti Irani from Amethi.
The list of 184 names covered 23 states including Bihar, West Bengal, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand among others.
In the list BJP has announced 14 of 15 sitting MPs of Karnataka. Only one sitting MP – Karadi Sanganna from Koppal – has not been named.
All three Union ministers from Karnataka – Ananth Kumar Hegde (Uttara Kannada), Ramesh Jigjinagi (Bijapur) and DV Sadananda Gowda (Bengaluru North) will be contesting from their current seats.
In its list of 184 names, the BJP has fielded many incumbent MPs, putting to rest speculation that the party, wary of anti-incumbency, would field fresh faces in many seats. In Rajasthan, for instance, it has dropped sitting Jhunjhunu MP Santosh Ahlawat. Retaining in Uttar Pradesh, sitting MPs, Hema Malini, Rajnath Singh, VK Singh, Smriti Irani, Satyapal Singh, Mahesh Sharma, Sanjeev Balyan are among the notable ones who are being fielded again.
While announcing the names of the candidates, BJP senior leader and Union Minister JP Nadda said that the names of 17 party candidates from Bihar has already been cleared by the Central Election Committee (CEC) of the party but the announcement of the names would be released jointly in Patna along with alliance partners Janata Dal (United) and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).
It has been reported that 35 of 78 BJP leaders who been re-nominated for the Lok Sabha polls has criminal cases filed against them.
Meanwhile, Congress has so far announced the names of nearly 140 candidates for the Lok Sabha polls.
(With agencies inputs)