Advani packed off as Shah gets Gandhinagar ticket

Battle lines: Lucknow for Rajnath, Modi in Varanasi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP National President Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and others during the BJP Central Election Committee (CEC) meeting for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, at BJP headquarters in New Delhi. PTI photo

The BJP on Thursday announced its first list of 184 candidates, keeping party patriarch L K Advani out and naming its chief Amit Shah from Gandhinagar, a seat represented by the former six times in the past.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will contest from his Parliamentary seat Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, but there is no word yet on the big speculation on the second seat he might contest to give a boost to BJP’s prospects.

At least two dozen MPs have also been dropped.

With Shah contesting from Gandhinagar, the electoral journey of Advani (91), who built the party from scratch, comes to an end. He was sent to BJP’s Margdarshark Mandal soon after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, which has effectively curtailed his public engagements.

Of late, the Opposition parties have been soft on Advani and are citing his “sidelining” within the BJP to attack Modi and Shah.

Even on Thursday, after the BJP announced its list of candidates keeping Advani out, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala was quick to react.

“First Advani was forcibly sent to Mardarshak Mandal. Now, even his Parliamentary seat was snatched. When Modi ji does not respect elders, how will he honour the trust of people,” he tweeted.

There was also buzz that if not Advani, either his daughter Pratibha Advani or his son Jayant Advani could be given a ticket. So far, there is no such announcement or any indication from the party to that effect.

While Union minister and senior BJP leader Kalraj Mishra, who is an MP from Deoria in UP has expressed his unwillingness to contest the elections citing engagements in party work, there was no word from the Advani camp.

In 2013, Advani had opposed tooth and nail the bid to project Narendra Modi as BJP’s face for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and had even absented from a key party meet in which Modi was declared BJP’s campaign committee chairman.

In 2014, Advani had won from Gandhinagar by a huge margin of 4.83 lakh votes against Congress’ Kirit Patel but much of the credit had gone to the Narendra Modi wave for the grand victory. Before the elections, Advani wanted to shift to Bhopal and even then there was speculation that Shah could be fielded from Gandhinagar.

Advani, who pioneered the BJP’s Ram Janmabhoomi movement after the party was in doldrums having won only two Lok Sabha seats in 1984, is credited with making BJP the ruling party even as Atal Bihari Vajpayee became Prime Minister in three successive NDA governments.

26 women

The BJP list also includes 26 women, four Muslim candidates (three from Jammu & Kashmir and one from Lakshadweep), 18 doctors, two professors and one advocate. 

Union minister and BJPs’ Parliamentary Board Secretary Jagat Prakash Nadda said the BJP’s Central Election Committee has finalised the names of all 17 candidates in Bihar, which will be declared by the NDA in the state later.

Out of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP on Thursday named candidates for 29 seats including that of Home Minister Rajnath Singh from Lucknow and Smriti Irani from Rahul Gandhi’s Parliamentary seat Amethi.

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Advani packed off as Shah gets Gandhinagar ticket

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