Lok Sabha elections 2024: BJP repeats 7 MPs, axes 4, accommodates two Congress leaders in Rajasthan

Two Congress leaders who joined BJP recently, Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya and Jyoti Mirdha, have also been accommodated.
Last Updated 02 March 2024, 17:18 IST

Jaipur: As India prepares for the next general elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced its first list with 15 names for Rajasthan, repeating seven of its MPs, including three of its ministers and Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla.  

The repeat candidates include Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla from Kota, Union ministers Gajendra Singh Shekhawat from Jodhpur, Arjun Ram Meghwal from Bikaner, Kailash Choudhary from Barmer, state president C P Joshi from Chittorgarh, P P Choudhary from Pali, Dushyant Singh from Jhalawar and Sumedhanand from Sikar. 

Two Congress leaders who joined BJP recently, Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya and Jyoti Mirdha, have also been accommodated. Malviya, an influential tribal leader in the Banswara Dungarpur region, has been given the Banswara ticket, while Jyoti Mirdha has been fielded from Nagaur.   

Malviya is a four-time Congress MLA and MP from Banswara. Mirdha became a Congress MP from Nagaur in 2009. He lost the Assembly elections in December last year from Nagaur to Harendra Mirdha.   

Paralympic gold medal javelin thrower and Padma Bhushan awardee Devendra Jhajhariya has been given Churu seat. Jhajhariya hails from Churu district and BJP has been sending him feelers since June last year.

At least four sitting MPs have been axed. Amongst them is sitting Churu MP Rahul Kaswan, who has been dropped after rumours that he may have had a hand in defeating BJP leader Rajendra Rathore from Taranagar Assembly constituency. There were also talks of Rathore being made the candidate from Churu, which has not materialised.

Jalore-Sirohi MP Devji Patel is another name that has been dropped as he lost his Assembly elections from Sanchore in December. In his place, Numbaram Choudhury has been fielded. Udaipur’s sitting MP Arjunlal Meena has also been axed and is replaced by Pannalal Rawat.   

Bharatpur (SC) constituency’s candidate Ranjeeta Koli has been replaced with Ramswarup Koli this time.

Union Cabinet minister Bhupendra Yadav has been fielded from Alwar, which was vacated after BJP MP Baba Balaknath contested from Tijara in the Assembly elections. Alwar has a sizable Yadav population and Bhupendra being a Yadav perhaps made the cut.

Vasundhara Raje’s son Dushyant Singh retained Jhalawar-Baran. Earlier, there were speculations that Raje was offered the seat but she declined.

BJP has won all the 25 seats in Rajasthan in 2014 and 2019. In 2019, BJP tied up with Hanuman Beniwal’s Rashtriya Loktantrik Party for the Nagaur seat.  BJP is gearing up to repeat the hat-trick in 2024.

Out of the 25 seats in the state, BJP has named 15 candidates and 10 remain to be announced.  

There are talks that two tall BJP leaders, former state president Satish Poonia and former Opposition leader Rajendra Rathore, who lost their Assembly seats from Amer and Taranagar constituencies, respectively, are also likely to be accommodated. There are also talks of fielding Poonia from Jaipur (Rural) or Ajmer and Rathore from Churu. Tickets to these two leaders would mean setting the caste equilibrium right as Poonia belongs to the dominant Jat caste and Rathore from Rajputs. 

With the slogan Aabki baar 400 paar, the state BJP is heavily banking on Prime Minister Narendar Modi’s charisma and guarantee for creating a hat-trick record in the desert state this time. Although Rajasthan has been a BJP stronghold for long, Union home minister Amit Shah who was in Bikaner, Udaipur, to review poll preparations had pulled up state ministers for not drawing up the plans yet. 

However, sources say some seats like Ajmer, Barmer, Banswara-Dungarpur may prove tricky for BJP. After Malviya’s crossover from Congress, it is being assumed that he may face opposition from BJP workers and leaders there, who may put a spanner in his election. 

Sources say Barmer district unit is also facing infighting and could pose challenges for incumbent MP Kailash Choudhary.

In a public meeting at Barmer railway station today, Kailash Choudhary, also union minister of state for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, asked voters not to punish Modi for his shortcomings. He blamed the Congress government for not being able to fulfil all his promises.

BJP follows a three-pronged strategy to choose candidates. Three kinds of surveys are conducted on the candidate names, first being a survey by hired agencies, which includes the educational qualifications, popularity amongst the common people and party cadres, winning chances, their social media presence,  then party organisational feedback and then thorough check of candidates shortlisted by intelligence agencies. After all these surveys, lastly the names are cleared by the top leaders of the party after due consultations, say sources. 

Not to forget, caste is still a biggest deciding factor in getting a ticket from a said constituency, like the Jaipur seat, a known Brahmin seat. After 1984, the next nine Lok Sabha elections saw a Brahmin candidate winning from this seat. Among the names floating for Jaipur are former state presidents Ashok Parnami, who is former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s close aide, Dr Arun Chaturvedi with RSS background and Sunil Bhargava, international trade law consultant and convenor, policy and research wing, BJP.   

Bhargava, who has built a strong social media presence, told DH, “I have worked behind the scenes for a long time. This time I want to work amongst the people. I have concentrated on the problems of the city. I have been able to think up solutions to these problems and that is my USP, I guess.” 

Meanwhile, sources say Congress is finding it difficult to find candidates for Lok Sabha seats. With indications that BJP may sweep all the 25 Lok Sabha seats, many candidates being offered tickets are backing out. Amidst talks of fielding big leaders like Ashok Gehlot, state president Govind Singh Dotasra, Sachin Pilot and even former minister and Kota’s big leader Shanti Dhariwal, there is still no clarity on the candidates till now.

Sources also say dialogues with workers at the grassroots levels have started but at the moment the focus is on forming a credible Opposition in the state and also Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, which entered  Dholpur today.

(Published 02 March 2024, 17:18 IST)

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