• Saturday, April 20, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Modi, Amit Shah may feature in BJP’s 1st candidates list for 2024 elections

The ruling Hindu nationalist party held a marathon meeting between Thursday night and Friday morning at its headquarters chaired by the prime minister and home minister.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi during his Bharatiya Janata Party’s central election committee meeting, at the party headquarters, in New Delhi on Thursday. Indian home minister Amit Shah (left), defense minister Rajnath Singh (right), BJP national president JP Nadda (to Modi’s left) and others are also seen. (ANI Photo/ Shrikant Singh)

By: Shubham Ghosh

INDIA’S ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to release its first list of candidates for the upcoming general elections later on Friday (1), sources have said. The list may include more than 100 names, including the likes of prime minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah — the party’s two most powerful leaders.

The BJP’s top brass held a marathon overnight meeting of its central election commission at its headquarters in New Delhi on Thursday (29) which followed another that took place at Modi’s residence.

Indian media reports said that the BJP’s strategy for the elections that it is eyeing to win its third consecutive term in power, is based on getting feedback on the sitting parliamentarians — including talks with workers at the grassroots level and voters in their constituencies. The Hindu nationalist party is also working on a plan to reshuffle candidates tactically in order to neutralise the anti-incumbency challenge, something it successfully did in the recent elections in the central state of Madhya Pradesh to retain power.

Read: Rahul Gandhi urges India’s low castes to defeat Modi: ‘Why are you asleep?’

The sources added that the BJP may announce names of several of its candidates well before the Election Commission of India reveals the schedule of the polls in a bid to put pressure on the opposition INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) forum which is witnessing key seat-sharing pact at the moment.

Read: PM Modi chairs his BJP’s meeting to pick candidates for 2024 battle of ballots

It had adopted a similar strategy ahead of the 2019 general election when the now-defunct United Progressive Alliance was in the opposition. The BJP and its National Democratic Alliance swept that election, winning 351 out of 543 seats.

India’s NDTV reported that the meeting that took place till 4 am local time on Friday would focus on choosing candidates from the Hindi heartland, a happy hunting ground for the BJP in elections. They include Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan besides the home state of Modi and Shah, Gujarat. The BJP is currently in power in all these states.

In the South, the states of Karnataka and Telangana are also under focus. Karnataka is the only state in southern India where the BJP has done well in both state and general elections. However, it lost power there in last year’s state elections, losing to opposition Indian National Congress.

Decisions over candidates in states such as Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in the south and Punjab in the north have been put on hold as of now, pending alliance talks with regional outfits. The BJP is hoping to re-establish relations with former allies from these states, including the Akali Dal in Punjab, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu and Telugu Desam Party and Jana Sena Party in Andhra Pradesh.

In terms of Modi’s candidacy, it is most likely that he will return to contest from his seat in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, which he won overwhelmingly in the 2014 and 2019 elections. Varanasi, a Hindu holy town, has been a BJP bastion since 1991, barring a Congress win in 2004. Speculation is rife that top Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra may challenge Modi in that seat this time.

Shah, on the other hand, is likely to contest from Gandhinagar in Gujarat where he won with a huge majority in 2019. The seat has sent BJP stalwarts such as former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee (once) and deputy prime minister Lal Krishna Advani (five times) to the parliament.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh and aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia might contest from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh and Guna-Shivpuri in Madhya Pradesh, respectively. It will be Scindia’s first general election as a member of the BJP after he shifted to the party from the Congress in 2021.

In Uttar Pradesh which sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha or popularly elected Lower House of the Indian parliament, the BJP may leave six seats for its regional allies such as Apna Dal (Soneylal) and Rashtriya Lok Dal.

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