Modi stays with Varanasi, Shah in fray from Gandhinagar

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will fight again from his Varanasi constituency while BJP President Amit Shah will make his debut in Lok Sabha polls from Gandhinagar, BJP leader J.P. Nadda announced on Thursday.

The Gandhinagar seat is currently held by veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani, who has been winning the seat consecutively from 1998.

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. V. K. Singh (retd) from Ghaziabad, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat from Jodhpur and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore from Jaipur Rural.

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 Ministers Jitendra Singh (Jammu-Udhampur), Mahesh Sharma (Gautam Buddh Nagar), D.V. Sadananda Gowda (Bengaluru North), Arjun Ram Meghwal (Bikaner), Pon Radhakrishnan (Kanniyakumari), Hansraj Ahir (Chandrapur) and Subhash Bhamre (Dhule) will also contest from the seats they hold.

Nadda also said 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. These will be announced subsequently, he said.

Among other prominent candidates, former Union Minister Sanjeev Kumar Balyan will fight from his Muzaffarnagar seat against Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh, while Union Minister Satyapal Singh will again contest from his Baghpat seat against the RLD chief’s son Jayant Chaudhary.

In Bengal, Union Minister Babul Supriyo will fight to retain his Asanol seat, where he will face Trinamool Congress’s Moon Moon Sen, who has shifted from Bankura. The BJP has also fielded Bengali film actress Locket Chatterjee from Hooghly.

The party has also fielded former Trinamool leaders Anupam Hazra, who will contest against film actress-turned-Trinamool candidate Mimi Chakraborty in Jadavpur, and Saumitra Khan in Bishnupur. Khagen Murmu, who switched over to the party from the Communist Party of India-Marxist, will face sitting MP Mausam Noor, who quit the Congress for the Trinamool, in Malda North.

The BJP also fielded Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda, who had quit Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal to join it, from Kendrapara.

BJP’s Kerala strongman Kummanam Rajasekharan, who recently quit as Mizoram Governor, will fight against Congress’s Shashi Tharoor in Thiruvanthapuram, while Union Minister K.J. Alphons will contest from Ernakulam.

The BJP also fielded its Tamil Nadu unit chief Tamilisai Soundararajan from Thoothukudi from where DMK’s K. Kanimozhi is contesting.

Nadda, who had announced that Minister of State from Home Kiren Rijiju will contest from Arunanchal East, later corrected himself, saying he would be contesting again from Arunachal West.