The first list of 184 candidates released by the BJP has at least eight deserters from different parties, including Baijyant Jay Panda of BJD, who joined the saffron party this month while the party has dropped almost an equal number of its sitting MPs.
In the first list of 29 of 80 Lok Sabha seats in crucial Uttar Pradesh, where it faces a strong caste alliance of arch-rivals BSP and SP, the saffron dropped six sitting MPs including Union Minister Krishna Raj (Shahjahanpur) and MP Ram Shankar Katheria (Agra).
Indications are that more sitting MPs in Uttar Pradesh can be dropped as the BJP faces a tough challenge in getting even close to 71 seats that it had won in 2014. The notables who were dropped also include former Union minister B C Khanduri (Garhwal) and former Uttarakhand chief minister Bhagat Singh Koshyari (Nainital).
Among deserters from other parties, which the BJP has inducted in hope of turning the table on regional parties in states where it is weak, the first list of candidates included four from the Congress and two each from the Trinamool Congress and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).
Sujay Vikhe Patil, son of Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in the Maharasthra Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, has been fielded from Ahmednagar parliamentary seat.
He joined the BJP after only a fortnight back after the NCP refused to concede Ahmednagar seat due to the traditional rivalry between the Patil family and Pawar.
Panda, who has been fielded from Kendrapada had joined the BJP on March 4 after quitting the Odisha party in 2018 following a prolonged standoff with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who was very close to him once.
The BJP treats Panda as a prize catch ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls and hopes to give some more momentum to the saffron party, which had surprised many by winning a large number of seats in the Panchayat elections in Odisha exactly two years back in 2017.
Another former BJD leader Balbhadra Manjhi has been fielded from Nabrangpur.
From Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress Anupam Hazra and Soumitra Khan have been fielded from Jadhavpur and Vishnupur respectively.
Former Congress leader D Purandeshwary, who had joined the BJP before 2014 polls, has been fielded from Visakhapatnam.
The list was announced on the auspicious day of Holi following three marathon meetings of its central election committee. The first list of BJP candidates has besides 29 from UP, 16 are from Maharashtra, eight from Assam, two from Arunachal Pradesh, five from Chhatisgarh and Jammu and Kashmir each, 21 from Karnataka, 13 from Kerala, 10 from Odisha, 16 from Rajasthan, five from Tamil Nadu, 10 from Telangana, five from Uttarakhand, 28 from West Bengal and two from Andhra Pradesh.