Muslim woman candidate Mafuja Khatun fielded from Jangipur in West Bengal.


New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has given tickets to more than 35 new faces so far for the coming Lok Sabha elections. Some of the prominent faces who will be contesting Lok Sabha elections for the first time include Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (Patna Sahib), firebrand spokesperson Sambit Patra (Puri), besides party president Amit Shah. The party has fielded Muslim woman candidate Mafuja Khatun from Jangipur constituency of West Bengal.

The party has so far announced a total of 286 candidates for the coming Lok Sabha elections for which voting for the first phase will be held on 11 April. Some other prominent leaders whose names were announced on Saturday include former Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda (Khunti) and sitting MPs Anurag Thakur (Hamirpur), Narendra Singh Tomar (Morena). Arjun Munda had lost Assembly elections in 2014 from Saraikella-Kharsawan and was sidelined since then. Out of the names announced so far, the party has, by and large, retained the sitting MPs.

Several 75-plus leaders like L.K. Advani, Bijoya Chakravarty, B.C. Khanduri, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Shanta Kumar, Karia Munda, Hukumdeo Narayan Yadav did not figure in the list. So far, there has not been any announcement about the fate of Murli Manohar Joshi. Kalraj Mishra, however, has announced that he would not contest the elections this time. Senior party leader Uma Bharti, who announced her decision not to contest the elections, has been appointed as BJP’s vice president.

On Saturday, the party announced its list for Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachala Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, UP, Karnataka and West Bengal. In Bihar, the party has denied tickets to Shatrughan Sinha and decided to field Ravi Shankar Prasad from the Patna Sahib constituency. Kirti Azad, who had become rebel and joined the Congress, has been replaced with Gopalji Thakur. Hukumdeo Narayan Yadav has been denied ticket due to his old age and has been replaced by his son Ashok Kumar Yadav from Madhubani constituency.

In Kairana (UP), the party has decided to field Pradeep Choudhary in place of Mriganka Singh, who lost in the by-election which was held following the death of her father Hukum Singh, who had won the election in 2014. On Friday night, the BJP released its second list of candidates carrying 36 names including party spokesperson Sambit Patra (Puri) and Odisha BJP president Basant Panda (Kalahandi).  The party, in the first list, announced the names of Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Varanasi), Rajnath Singh (Lucknow), Smriti Irani (Amethi), Nitin Gadkari (Nagpur) Amit Shah (Gandhinagar), V.K. Singh (Ghaziabad), Mahesh Sharma (Gautam Budha Nagar) and former Baijayant Panda.

In Bihar, another notable leader who was denied ticket was Shahnawaz Hussain, who was defeated in the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Bhagalpur. The party has decided to give the seat to its ally JDU, which has given ticket to Ajay Kumar Mandal. Hussain, it is being speculated, will be sent to Rajya Sabha.

In a tweet, Hussain said: “I will not be contesting from Bhagalpur this time. As part of NDA alliance in Bihar, Nitish Kumar’s JDU has taken my seat along with seats of six sitting MPs of BJP. My party has always kept faith in me and previously given me tickets in six Lok Sabha elections. However, I will work hard for the party in the Lok Sabha elections.”

Another senior leader and sitting MP from Nawada, Giriraj Singh, has been given ticket from Begusarai, the constituency from where CPI has decided to field former JNU students’ union leader Kanhaiya Kumar.