BJP president will make his Lok Sabha election debut this year when he will contest from Gujarat’s Gandhinagar constituency. Shah who has till now limited his role to the affairs of the party will be filing his nomination papers from Gandhinagar, which used to be the home turf of veteran BJP leader LK Advani.
Shah was elected MP of Rajya Sabha for Gujarat in 2017. Earlier, he was an MLA in Gujarat legislative assembly from 1997 to 2017. He is a close associate of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and held several key positions in the state government during Narendra Modi’s tenure as chief minister of Gujarat.
Shah had played an instrumental role in ensuring BJP’s victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The announcement of his candidature from Gandhinagar marks a major shift in the party’s strategy as it looks to augment its executive ranks.
* Smriti Irani vs Rahul Gandhi once again in Amethi
Smriti Irani will once again come face to face with Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi constituency for the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP announced as it released its first list of candidates.
This will be Irani’s second attempt to wrest the seat from Congress. In 2014, she lost the seat by a margin of over one lakh votes to Rahul Gandhi.
Amethi is historically considered to be a Congress bastion. In 2009, Rahul had won the Amethi constituency by a margin of 3.70 lakh votes. In the next Lok Sabha polls, in 2014, the margin came down to 1.07 lakh votes.
* Prime Minister to seek re-election from Varanasi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek his re-election from Varanasi constituency, a seat he had won by a margin of over 3,70,000 votes by defeating Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal.
Apart from Varanasi, the Prime Minister also contested from Gujarat’s Vadodara seat, which he won by a mammoth margin of over 5,70,000 votes. It was the second highest victory margin in the history of Lok Sabha elections. However, he vacated the seat and decided to retain the Varanasi seat.
* Veteran leaders LK Advani, BC Khanduri left out
Keeping in line with the party’s apparent decision to not give any executive positions to leaders who are over 75 years of age, veteran leader LK Advani and BC Khanduri were dropped from their Lok Sabha seats.
Earlier, in anticipation of the party leadership’s move, senior leaders like Kalraj Mishra and Bhagat Singh Koshyari had announced their unwillingness to contest the coming Lok Sabha polls.
The fate of another party veteran, Murli Manohar Joshi, who had won from Kanpur in 2014, remains uncertain as the party did not announce its candidate from the seat in the first list.
The 91-year-old Advani, the longest-serving BJP president who enjoyed the final say in organisational affairs for decades, had been winning from Gandhinagar seat in Gujarat since 1998.
* The list includes candidates from 20 states
In the first list of 184 candidates, sixteen are from Maharashtra, eight from Assam, two from Arunachal Pradesh, five from Chhattisgarh, five from Jammu and Kashmir each, twenty one from Karnataka, thirteen from Kerala, ten from Odisha, sixteen from Rajasthan, five from Tamil Nadu, ten from Telangana, five from Uttarakhand, twenty-eight from West Bengal, twenty-eight from Uttar Pradesh, two from Andhra Pradesh, two from Manipur, one from Mizoram, one from Sikkim, one from Tripura and one each from Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Island and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.