The Bharatiya Janata Party has announced its list of candidates for the Lok Sabha elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will contest from Varanasi and Amit Shah will fight polls from Gandhinagar in place of LK Advani. This is the first time he will contesting the Lok Sabha polls.
Among the prominent leaders announced in BJP's first list, which had 184 names across 20 states, were Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, who will contest again from Lucknow, Nitin Gadkari from Nagpur, Gen. VK Singh (retd) from Ghaziabad, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (Jaipur Rural), Satyapal Singh (Baghpat), and D.V. Sadananda Gowda (Bengaluru North). All are sitting MPs from these seats.
Union Minister Smriti Irani will again face Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, while film actress-turned politician Hema Malini will contest from her Mathura seat.
Union Minister Babul Supriyo will fight to retain his Asanol seat, where he will face Trinamool Congress's Moon Moon Sen. The BJP has also fielded Bengali film actress Locket Chatterjee from Hooghly.
BJP's Kerala strongman Kummanam Rajasekharan, who recently quit as Mizoram Governor, will fight against Congress's Shashi Tharoor in Thiruvanthapuram, while Union Minister KJ Alphons will contest from Ernakulam. Interestingly, they have announced 13 of the 14 seats they intend to contest from Kerala. The Pathanamthitta seat, where the Sabarimala temple is located, has still not been decided. There seems to be jostle within the party between state BJP president PS Sreedharan Pillai and state general secretary K Surendran.
The BJP also fielded its Tamil Nadu unit chief Tamilisai Soundararajan from Thoothukudi from where DMK's K. Kanimozhi is contesting.
Announcing the list JP Nadda, who had earlier stated that Minister of State from Home Kiren Rijiju will contest from Arunanchal East, corrected himself, saying he would be contesting from Arunachal West.
The BJP also fielded Baijayant 'Jay' Panda, who had quit Odisha's ruling Biju Janata Dal to join it, from Kendrapara.
Nadda also announced that candidates for all the 17 seats it will contest in Bihar have been cleared by the party's Central Election Committee and sent to the state election panel.
Congress defector Umesh Jadhav has been fielded from Gulbarga in Karnataka. He is likely to face Mallikarjun Kharge. Current Tumkur MP GS Basavaraj filed his papers from Tumkur constituency in Karnataka, hours before his candidature was officially announced by the party in New Delhi in the evening
Lok Sabha polls, to be held in seven phases across the country, begin April 11 and the counting of the votes will be held on May 23.
The party, earlier in the day, released its list candidates for the elections in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.