BJP’s fresh list ends buzz of Modi’s Puri seat

Last Updated 23 March 2019, 20:15 IST

With the BJP announcing the name of its spokesperson Sambit Patra as the candidate from the temple town of Puri, speculation over the likelihood of Prime Minister Narendra Modi contesting from a second Lok Sabha seat in Odisha ended on Saturday.

Similarly, after the Sabarimala surge in Kerala, as the BJP was trying hard to make its presence felt in the state, there was buzz that Modi could be fielded from Pathanamthitta seat, but the party on Saturday fielded K Surendran from there.

The party has so far announced its candidates for a total of 286 Lok Sabha seats of which 285 are BJP candidates while it is backing one independent candidate, film actress Sumalatha, in the Mandya seat of Karnataka.

Names of candidates have been announced in Telangana, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

In Bihar, the takeaway from the list of 17 candidates was the shunting out of rebel party MP Shatrughan Sinha and replacing him with Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

With five lists out, BJP has declared names of most candidates for the first two phases.

One key seat is Kairana in Western Uttar Pradesh, the new laboratory of Hindutva politics which the BJP had lost in a bypoll last year.

The declaration of Patra’s candidature from Puri seat is significant for the young spokesperson of the party, who is making his debut from the seat at a time when the BJP is in its strongest-ever position.

There had been intense speculation that Modi, who is re-contesting from Varanasi, may contest from a second seat to boost the performance of the party in adjoining seats in any state where the BJP has a chance to improve its tally.

Odisha, West Bengal and Karnataka and Kerala were in the list of states, where the speculation of Modi contesting was doing the rounds.

There is a strong buzz in Karnataka that Modi might consider contesting from Bangalore South, the seat represented by former Union minister the late Ananth Kumar for six terms till his death.

The argument has been that if Modi, like Indira Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi, also contests from a seat in South India, it will strengthen the impression that he is not only a North Indian leader but a pan India leader. In 2014, by venturing out of his home state Gujarat and winning the Varanasi seat with a thumping majority defeating AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal, Modi had given a substantial boost to the BJP tally in the caste cauldron of Eastern Uttar Pradesh.

In West Bengal, the BJP has upped the Hindutva pitch and is repeatedly attacking Mamata Banerjee accusing her of “appeasement politics”. By fielding a “Hindu Hriday Samarat” as many in the BJP would like to call Modi from an urban centre in the state, the saffron party hopes to further the Hindutva appeal.

(Published 23 March 2019, 19:25 IST)

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