Former BJP president Nitin Gadkari
Former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Shanta Kumar, party's deputy leader in Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde and Yuva Morcha chief Anurag Thakur are among the 54 names in the BJP's first list of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls, due by May.
While Mr Gadkari will contest for the Nagpur Lok Sabha seat, Mr Munde will fight from his seat Beed in Maharashtra. In Himachal Pradesh, Mr Kumar will be contesting from Kangra and Mr Thakur from Hamirpur.
The party has also nominated two Muslim candidates in Jammu and Kashmir -Gulam Mohammad Mir from Baramulla and Mushtaq Ahmad Malik Nurabadi from Anantnag.
The BJP's Central Election Committee finalised the list after two hours of deliberations at the party headquarters where top leaders like Narendra Modi, LK Advani, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Murli Manohar Joshi and Venkaiah Naidu were present.
The list also includes magician PC Sorcar (Jr) who will contest from Barasat in West Bengal along with actor George Baker (Howrah, West Bengal), former union ministers Tapan Sikdar (Dum Dum in West Bengal) and Jual Oram (Sundargarh, Odisha).
Of the 54 candidates finalised today, 17 each will contest from Maharashtra and West Bengal, six from Odisha, five from Jammu and Kashmir, three from Himachal Pradesh and two each from Goa, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.