AA Edit | BJP’s first list heralds youth power, change

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Edit

BJP showcases confidence and change, dropping controversial MPs and embracing youth and experience nationwide

Labourers make flags of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. (Image: PTI)

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party showcased both confidence and creativity in its first list of candidates for the Lok Sabha, that includes Prime Minister Narendra Modi contesting from his current seat of Varanasi, and home minister Amit Shah from Gandhinagar. Besides seeking a comprehensive public mandate for its Cabinet members by nominating 34 ministers and changing the career direction of three former chief ministers, it dropped a large number of sitting MPs, including three known for making controversial remarks or being charged with hate speech.

The three candidates the BJP dropped and sought to replace are Pragya Singh Thakur, Ramesh Bidhuri and Parvesh Verma, all of whom have been guilty of making controversial remarks that hurt the image of the party which proposes to stand for “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” (With Everyone, Develop Everyone).

The party, in its first list of 195 candidates, covers 16 states, and has an intelligent mix of seniors and youth, including debutants. It showcases the confidence of the party in several states and regions, including Uttar Pradesh (51), Madhya Pradesh (24), West Bengal (20), Gujarat and Rajasthan (15 each), Assam, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh (11 each). It also put a strong foot forward in Telangana (nine), Delhi (five) and Uttarakhand (three). The party named 12 candidates in Kerala, where its stakes may be emotionally high but chances low.

Interestingly, in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP is fielding former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, and has dropped 10 sitting MPs, introducing two new faces. But in Uttar Pradesh, from where ministers Rajnath Singh (Lucknow) and Smriti Irani (Amethi) and former actor Hema Malini (Mathura) will be contesting, the party has cautiously retained sitting MPs.

In Rajasthan, the party will have Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and ministers Arjun Ram Meghwal and Gajendra Shekhawat contesting. Rajya Sabha member and minister Bhupendra Yadav is being fielded from Alwar for first time. In the western desert state, the saffron party has dropped five seats.

In Bengal, besides Suvendu Adhikari’s brother Soumendu, and ministers Subhash Sarkar and Santanu Thakur, the party has declared 17 other candidates, including three women candidates: Locket Chatterjee, Sreerupa Mitra Chowdhury and Priya Saha. In Jharkhand, the party named candidates for11 of 14 constituencies, including Union ministers Arjun Munda and Annapurna Devi, while two sitting MPs have been dropped.

In Telangana, the party retained three of its four sitting MPs, including Union minister G. Kishan Reddy. Several new leaders who have crossed over from the Congress or BRS have been included in the list of nine named out of 17 seats.

In Delhi, the party dropped Ramesh Bidhuri, Parvesh Verma, Meenakshi Lekhi and Harsh Vardhan, even as former cricketer Gautam Gambhir has publicly “sought to be dropped” from electoral duties. In Kerala, the party is setting up an epic battle in Thiruvananthapuram, from where it is fielding Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar to take on Shashi Tharoor, a three-term member from the seat.

A big surprise was the decision to field minister of state Ajay Mishra Teni from Lakhimpur Kheri, even after his son Ashish had been jailed for his alleged involvement in mowing down four farmers during the protests there three years ago.

The overall list, which includes 47 young leaders, and 28 women, augurs well for the party that is focused on not only winning the elections with a big margin but also keen to build the leadership of tomorrow.

After victories in three Hindi heartland states, the BJP’s claim for a third term gathered strength. The inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya and the implosion of the Congress-led Opposition alliance INDIA has almost perceptibly sealed the verdict of the Lok Sabha elections.

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