- BJP releases list of 184 candidates for Lok Sabha elections
- PM Modi, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari to contest from current seats
- Amit Shah to replace LK Advani in Gujarat's Gandhinagar
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will contest from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the parliamentary seat he retained after winning two seats in the 2014 election, the BJP announced on Thursday evening, as it released its first list of candidates for Lok Sabha elections that begin next month.
Yesterday's list has 184 candidates, union minister JP Nadda said, as he announced the names.
Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari will contest from Lucknow and Nagpur respectively. Both leaders had won from these seats in the last general election.
Union minister Smriti Irani will take on Congress president Rahul Gandhi for the second time, as she contests from Amethi. In the 2014 polls, she lost to Mr Gandhi from his bastion, but managed to reduce his winning margin.
Minister VK Singh will fight from Ghaziabad, parliamentarian Hema Malini from her existing constituency Mathura and Sakshi Maharaj will contest from Unnao.
Union Minister Babul Supriyo will fight to retain his Asansol seat, where he will face Trinamool Congress's Moon Moon Sen. The BJP has also fielded Bengali film actress Locket Chatterjee from Hooghly.
BJP's Kerala strongman Kummanam Rajasekharan, who recently quit as Mizoram Governor, will fight against Congress's Shashi Tharoor in Thiruvanthapuram, while Union Minister KJ 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.
Mr 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 from Arunachal West.
The BJP also fielded Baijayant 'Jay' Panda, who had quit Odisha's ruling Biju Janata Dal to join it, from Kendrapara.
In Rajasthan, former chief minister Vasundhara Raje will not contest the polls, rather her son Dushyant will fight for the fourth time.
28 names each have been announced for Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, 21 Karnataka, 16 Maharashtra, 16 Rajasthan, 13 Kerala, 10 Odisha, 10 Telangana, 8 Assam, 5 Tamil Nadu, 5 Chhattisgarh, 5 Jammu and Kashmir, 5 Uttarakhand, 2 Arunachal, 2 Tripura, 2 Andhra Pradesh, 1 Gujarat, 1 Sikkim, 1 Mizoram, 1 Lakshwadeep and 1 Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
The list comes a day after the BJP's central election panel met for a third time to finalise names for the Lok Sabha elections.
Mr Nadda said that 17 names have also been finalized for Bihar but they will be announced at a later date.
The Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases beginning April 11; votes will be counted on May 23.
With inputs from IANS