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Lok Sabha polls: BJP names 111 more candidates; drops 2 ministers, Varun Gandhi; fields Arun Govil, 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.

The BJP has denied tickets to nearly 37 incumbent MPs in the latest list, including nine in Uttar Pradesh, five in Gujarat, four in Odisha and three each in Bihar, Karnataka and Jharkhand.

The count of dropped MPs does not include those who won recent assembly elections like Diya Kumari and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in Rajasthan, or someone like Nayab Singh Saini who has taken over as Haryana chief minister or Hisar MP Brijendra Singh, who has already quit the party.

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 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.

Source: Press Trust of India

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