BJP names 111 more candidates; drops 2 ministers; fields Arun Govil, Kangana

Kangana Ranaut
Kangana Ranaut

New Delhi | The BJP on Sunday named 111 more Lok Sabha poll candidates, dropping Union ministers Ashwini Kumar Choubey and V K Singh, and MP Varun Gandhi, while fielding actors Kangana Ranaut and Arun Govil.

Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan will contest from Sambalpur and the party's spokesperson Sambit Patra will try his luck again from Puri after losing out in a close contest in 2019.

The party has axed former Union minister Anantkumar Hegde, a six-term Lok Sabha member from Uttara Kannada, this time. A hardline Hindutva leader, he has often courted controversies with his remarks including the recent row when he said a big mandate for the BJP is necessary so that it could amend the Constitution.

Kerala BJP president K Surendra will contest from Wayanad, the seat from where incumbent MP and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi is again in the fray.

The BJP has fielded Rekha Patra, who party leaders said is one of the Sadeshkhali victims, from West Bengal's Basirhat constituency in a bid to corner the state's ruling Trinamool Congress.

The BJP named candidates for all 17 seats it is contesting in Bihar, renominating Union minister Giriraj Singh from Begusarai and former Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad from Patna Sahib.

Union ministers R K Singh and Nityanand Rai have also been fielded from their current seats, while in Uttar Pradesh the ruling party named 13 more candidates.

While it has denied the ticket from Pilibhit to Varun Gandhi, a three-term Lok Sabha MP who has often aired views deemed critical of his party's governments at the Centre and in the state, it has renominated his mother Maneka Gandhi from Sultanpur.

Jitin Prasada, a minister in the state government, is the party's choice from Pilibhit while Atul Garg replaces two-term MP V K Singh in Ghaziabad. Hours before the party released the list, Singh said in a post on X that he is opting out of the polls.

Three leaders who joined the BJP on Sunday figured in the list -- Naveen Jindal from Kurukshetra, Haryana government minister Ranjit Chautala from Hisar (both in Haryana), and Varaprasad Rao from Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh.

With this list of 111 candidates, the ruling party has named 398 nominees, excluding the four who withdrew after their names created controversy, for the elections to the 543-member Lok Sabha.

Ranaut, a vocal supporter of the BJP, will contest from Mandi in her home state of Himachal Pradesh, while veteran actor Arun Govil, famed for his role of Lord Ram in the popular TV serial "Ramayan", has been preferred to seasoned parliamentarian Rajendra Agrawal in Meerut by the ruling party.

Sita Soren, the sister-in-law of former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren, is the BJP's candidate from Dumka. She had quit the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha a few days ago.

Former Karnataka chief minister Jagadish Shettar, who snapped his long ties with the BJP to join the Congress last year before returning to its fold months later, will contest from Belgaum.

The party has named 19 more candidates from West Bengal, including former Calcutta High Court judge Abhijit Gangopadhyay from Tamluk.

It has shifted Dilip Ghosh, the MP from Medinipur, to Bardhaman–Durgapur, dropping the incumbent S S Ahluwalia.

It named seven candidates from Rajasthan, four each from Haryana, Karnataka and Kerala, 18 from Odisha, and three each from from Maharashtra and Jharkhand among other states.

Its Andhra Pradesh president D Purandeswari will contest from Rajahmundry and former chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy from Rajampet as the party named its picks for all the six Lok Sabha seats in the state it is contesting in alliance with the TDP and the Jana Sena.

BJP vice president Baijayant Panda will contest from Kendrapara, a constituency he has represented in Lok Sabha as a BJD member twice.

Sita Soren
Sita Soren

BJP fields ex-JMM MLA Sita Soren from Dumka LS seat

Ranchi | The BJP on Sunday announced the names of three candidates in Jharkhand, including former JMM MLA and sister-in-law of former chief minister Hemant Soren from Dumka (ST) constituency.

The party on March 2 had announced that sitting MP Sunil Soren, who had defeated JMM president Shibu Soren in the 2019 polls by a margin of 47,590 votes, will seek re-election from Dumka.

In a blow to the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, three-term MLA and elder daughter-in-law of party patriarch Shibu Soren, Sita on March 20 had joined the BJP in New Delhi citing "isolation" and "neglect" by JMM since the death of her husband Durga Soren in 2009.

Dumka will go to polls on June 1.

In the two other seats of Chatra and Dhanbad, Kalicharan Singh and Dulu Mahato will contest respectively, the party announced.

In Chatra, the BJP reposed faith in Kalicharan Singh denying ticket to the sitting MP Sunil Kumar Singh who won by a margin of 3.77 lakh votes. In Dhanbad too, the party dropped sitting MP Pashupati Nath Singh who has been representing the seat since 2009 and fielded Baghmara MLA Dulu Mahato.

Mahato became an MLA in 2009 on the ticket of Jharkhand Vikash Morcha (JVM) of former chief minister Babulal Marandi. The man who has more than two dozen cases against him joined BJP in 2014.

Voting will be held in Chatra and Dhanbad will be held on May 20 and 25 respectively.

The BJP in its first list of Lok Sabha election candidates had named 11 nominees from Jharkhand including four new candidates - former Congress parliamentarian Geeta Kora (Singhbhum ST constituency), Rajya Sabha MP Samir Oraon, Tala Marandi and Manish Jaiswal.

The seven other candidates, announced earlier, will seek re-election from their respective constituencies.

They include Union ministers Arjun Munda (Khunti ST) and Annapurna Devi (Koderma).

There are 14 parliamentary constituencies in Jharkhand and as per the seat-sharing arrangement between the BJP and AJSU Party, Giridih seat has been left for the AJSU Party.

At present, Giridih seat is represented by AJSU Party's Chandra Prakash Chaudhary.

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