Patna/New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday announced the names of 102 more candidates for the Lok Sabha polls, including party’s senior leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad from Patna Sahib in Bihar and national spokesperson Sambit Patra from Puri in Odisha. Mr Prasad replaces film actor and sitting MP Shatrughan Sinha.
According to media reports, Mr Sinha is expected to join the Congress and seek re-election on the grand old party’s ticket. The decision is likely to be announced either on Sunday or Monday in New Delhi in the presence of Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
Mr Sinha, who had won 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections on BJP ticket from Patna Sahib, has been at loggerheads with the party after he was not inducted into the Cabinet.
On a number of occasions earlier he defied Prime Minister Narendra Modi and criticised demonetisation and GST rollout — two major decisions of Modi government in 2016 and 2017. He has also been vocal about his support to RJD chief Lalu Yadav despite mounting corruption cases and conviction in the fodder scam which didn’t go down well with the BJP leadership, party leaders said in Patna on Saturday.
The two-time Lok Sabha MP from Patna Sahib has also openly praised Mr Gandhi number of times earlier.
Mr Prasad’s name was announced jointly by NDA constituents at the state BJP office in Patna. The three NDA constituents in Bihar — BJP, JD(U) and LJP — announced the names of candidates for the 39 out of 40 seats for the 2019 general elections.
Sources said that the BJP had shortlisted two Kayastha leaders with a strong support base in Patna to replace Mr Sinha. But after days of discussions, Mr Prasad’s name was included in the list.
The party fielded Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Jayant Sinha, Shripad Naik from Morena (Madhya Pradesh), Hazaribagh (Jharkhand), North Goa seats respectively.
Party leader Anurag Thakur has been renominated from Hamirpur.
Veteran party leader and sitting Kangra MP Shanta Kumar has been denied a ticket. Kishan Kapoor will replace the octogenarian leader as the BJP nominee from Kangra in Himachal Pradesh.
The party has also changed the seat of Union minister Giriraj Singh from Nawada to Begusarai in Bihar.
The BJP on Saturday also announced the candidature of its national spokesperson Sambhit Patra from Puri, through there was speculation earlier that Mr Modi would contest from that seat.
With these 102 names, the BJP has announced the name of its 286 candidates so far for the election to the 543-member Lok Sabha which will held in seven phases beginning 11 April and ending on 19 May. Counting of votes will take place on 23 May.
The names of candidates have been cleared by the BJP’s central election committee (CEC) headed by party chief Amit Shah and including Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a series of meetings held in the national capital this week.
The BJP had on Thursday released its first list of 184 candidates for the elections to 543-member Lok Sabha.
Names of Mr Modi and Ms Shah figured in the list with the Prime Minister being fielded from Varanasi, the constituency he currently represents in Lok Sabha.
The highlight of the list was the party’s decision to field Mr Shah from Gandhinagar in place of its veteran leader L.K. Advani.