NEW DELHI :
Ahead of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its first list of 184 candidates from 20 states on Thursday evening. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will continue to contest from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, party president Amit Shah has replaced Lal Krishna Advani, former deputy prime minister under the first National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, from the Gandhinagar seat in Gujarat.
While announcing the names of the candidates, BJP's senior leader and union minister J P Nadda said that the names of 17 party candidates 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).
After holding three rounds of CEC meetings which was attended by both Modi and Shah, it was decided that the two former party presidents and union ministers - Nitin Gadkari would continue to contest from Nagpur in Maharashtra and Rajnath Singh would again contest from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh.
Continuing to step up the political challenge to Congress president Rahul Gandhi, CEC has once again fielded union minister Smriti Irani to contest from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, a bastion of the Gandhi family being represented by the Congress president.
With Uttar Pradesh as a high stake battle, BJP in its first list announced 28 candidates from the state . Seven out of the eight Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, particularly from the western region, which are going to polls in the first phase of Lok Sabha on 11 April was announced on Wednesday. Union minister V K Singh will continue to fight from Ghaziabad seat, senior parliamentarian Hema Malini from Mathura and Sanjeev Kumar Balyan from Muzaffarnagar
The first list also announced 16 candidates from party ruled Maharashtra. Union ministers Subhash Ramrao Bhamre will contest from Dhule and Hansraj Ahir from Chandrapur have been fielded. State president Raosaheb Patil Danve has been fielded from Jalna. Young face Pritam Munde, daughter of former union minister Gopinath Munde, is contesting from Beed. She had previously won the seat by a record margin of nearly 6.96 lakh votes in 2014 general elections.
The list also finds 21 candidates from the southern state of Karnataka where it has high stakes as well as 13 from Kerala where it is looking to expand its electoral footprint. Union ministers including Kiren Rijiju is contesting from Arunachal Pradesh, Santosh Gangwar from Uttar Pradesh and Babul Supriyo from West Bengal.