New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday denied it was promoting nepotism after choosing the daughter and another relative of Gopinath Munde, the vice-president of its Maharashtra unit, to contest the 13 October state assembly elections.

Family ties: Maharashtra BJP vice-president Gopinath Munde. Praful Gangurde / Hindustan Times

They join his niece Poonam Mahajan, daughter of the late BJP leader, Pramod Mahajan, whose name was in the first list of candidates released by the party on Saturday.

The BJP, which has criticized the ruling Congress party in the past for promoting what it calls dynasty politics, denied that its choice of candidates amounted to promoting nepotism.

“Both Pankaja and Poonam have been dedicated workers of the party for many years and they deserved a ticket of the party," said party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar. “Madhusudan is only a distant relative. One should first look at the long list of sons and daughters in the Congress before asking this question to us."

Dileep Phadke, a political commentator and a professor in Pune University, said the BJP was going the “Congress way".

“The impression may be that if it can work for the Congress, why not for the BJP. The campaign becomes easier because there are two parallel mechanisms which work for the sons and daughters who stand for elections. One is that of the party and other that of the parents," Phadke said.

The BJP’s second list of candidates includes Ashish Deshmukh, son of former state Congress chief Ranjit Deshmukh, who was expelled from that party for indiscipline. He will contest from the Savner constituency.

The Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combination that rules Maharashtra has not announced a seat-sharing agreement for the state polls. According to a Congress politician, who is involved with the Maharashtra elections, most of the party leaders, including cabinet ministers, are seeking tickets for their sons or daughters. The politician didn’t want to be named.

(Liz Mathew contributed to this story.)