- The BJP's first list contains 184 candidates for seats over 20 states
- LK Advani's name did not figure in the first list
- In 2014, Mr Advani had won Gandhinagar seat by over 4 lakh votes
BJP president Amit Shah will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from Gandhinagar, the seat that veteran leader LK Advani had won by over four lakh votes in 2014.
Mr Advani's name did not figure in the first list presented by Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare JP Nadda at a press meet on Thursday evening. The development drew a sharp jibe from the Congress, which alleged that the BJP was actively trying sideline senior leaders who had brought the party into prominence. "First Shri Lal Krishna Advani was forcefully sent to the party's Marg Darshak Mandal, and now his parliamentary constituency has been snatched," Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
The BJP had earlier said that while nobody over the age of 75 years will get a ministerial position, it was up to party veterans such as Mr Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi to contest the elections.
Both Mr Advani (91) and Mr Joshi (84) had emerged victorious in the 2014 elections but were left out of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet. Along with former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, they were made members of a new "margdarshak mandal" that had nothing more than an advisory role. The committee never met in the last four years.
Mr Advani was said to be keen on the Lok Sabha Speaker's position but was passed over for Sumitra Mahajan. Two other veterans, Sushma Swaraj and Uma Bharti, have opted out of the election citing health reasons.
PM Modi will contest from Varanasi, the same constituency he had won in the 2014 polls. The announcement put to rest speculations about him deciding to stand from Puri, a temple town in Odisha. While Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will fight the elections from Lucknow, the party has decided to field Roadways Minister Nitin Gadkari from Nagpur, the headquarters of the RSS.
The BJP has once again decided to pit Union Minister Smriti Irani against Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Uttar Pradesh's Amethi. Although Mr Gandhi had defeated the actor-turned-politician by over a lakh votes in 2014, the party believes that she has gathered significant ground support since then.
Union Minister Kiren Rijiju will contest the elections from East Arunachal Pradesh.
The BJP's first list contains 184 names of candidates for seats spread across over 20 states. Earlier in the day, the party had released its list of candidates for elections in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
The Lok Sabha polls will be held in seven phases across the country from April 11. The votes will be counted on May 23.