First List Of BJP: 2024’s First “Chunavi Bigul”

In the quest to transform the slogan of “Ab Ki Baar, 400 Paar” into a reality, the BJP announced its first list of Lok Sabha candidates who will be a part of the PM’s Viksit Bharat vision for the next five years. BJP is known to be in the election mood for 24*7, 365 days, and it was well articulated by PM Modi when the C.E.C. meeting took place till 3 AM at BJP H.Q. Tackling the incumbency of 10 years is challenging. The popularity of PM Modi, recent electoral wins in 3 big states, the consecration of Shri Ram Mandir, and the government’s achievements are factors upon which the party is relying. Speculations were that the party would introduce new young faces, more women representation, and balance caste equations with more emphasis on the OBC. factor while distributing the tickets. While the party has still relied upon its old guards in states like UP, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh, the ‘OBC’ factor in the list is quite visible. The formula of sending Union Ministers to State assemblies and MLAs to Lok Sabha has been followed to beat the anti-incumbency.

PM Modi’s name is at the top of the list from Varanasi again. Political pundits and armchair analysts on social media claimed that PM Modi might contest from the Ramanathapuram seat in Tamil Nadu. Though BJP will surely surprise everyone in Tamil Nadu under Annamalai’s leadership, it was sure that PM Modi might not consider leaving Varanasi under any circumstances. The surprising name comes from Dibrugarh, Aasam, where former CM of Assam Sarbananda Sonowal has been fielded. He is the Rajya Sabha MP and Union Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways. In the 2019 Lok Sabha, the BJP won 9 seats, but as of the latest opinion polls, the alliance (BJP+AGP+BPF) can win three extra seats, taking the tally close to 12. The BJP in the state will bank on consolidating Hindu and Adivasi votes, especially after the delimitation in the state. Karimganj is no longer an SC seat; rather the reserved status has been given to Silchar. Assembly-wise, the number of ST seats has increased, which will eventually help the BJP in upcoming elections.

Out of 11 seats in Chhattisgarh, 3 OBC candidates, 4 ST candidates, and 3 General category candidates have been announced. At the same time, the ticket has been given to Sarla Kosaria from Saraipali constituency which is reserved for SC. If we talk about the Bastar division, Bastar and Kanker Lok Sabha seats are tribal-dominated areas. For this seat, more than ten tribal leaders of BJP had presented their claim for the ticket. However, it is believed that as the conversion of tribals was gaining momentum in Bastar, Mahesh Kashyap from Bastar and Bhojraj Nag from Kanker were continuously working against it. The mega rally and movement against religious conversion by these two leaders had a significant impact on the tribal community, and that is why BJP nominated Mahesh Kashyap from Bastar and Bhojram Nag from Kanker Lok Sabha.

Delhi became a political hotbed when the names of Meenakshi Lekhi, Dr Harshvardhan, Parvesh Verma Saheb, and Ramesh Singh Bidhuri were missing from the list. The BJP has fielded Bansuri Swaraj, daughter of later Smt Sushma Swaraj, along with Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, Praveen Khandelwal, and Smt Kamaljeet Sehrawat. The party will undoubtedly not sideline these heavy-weight leaders, rather use their power in the next Delhi Assembly elections. The caste equation has been kept intact in Delhi as the party fielded one Gurjar from South Delhi, one Jat from West Delhi, one Baniya from Chandni Chowk, and one ticket from Purvanchal (Manoj Tiwari).

The opposition has always blamed the BJP for not giving tickets to any Muslim candidate. This time, from Malappuram (Kerala), the BJP has given a ticket to Abdul Salam, a Muslim candidate. Even earlier, the BJP gave candidature to leaders like Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Shahnawaz Hussain. From Kerala only, Union Minister of State (I.T.) Rajeev Chandrashekhar will fight against Dr Shashi Tharoor. At the same time, another surprising name is Anil K. Antony, son of Congress leader and ex-UPA Minister A.K Antony. The latest opinion poll by India TV – CNX suggests that BJP can alone win three seats while L.D.F. can win six seats in Kerala. The Congress-led: UDF will lead by winning 11 Lok Sabha seats. With BJP’s outreach towards Christians and Muslims, it will be interesting to see its performance in Kerala.

On December 3, 2023, the BJP won the Madhya Pradesh elections. PM Modi’s popularity and Shivraj Mama’s extensive outreach helped BJP beat the anti-incumbency once again. However, changing the CM might have upset many party leaders, especially the ones from the “Shivraj Camp”. The top leadership has proved that it always supports its leaders by giving a ticket to Shivraj Singh Chauhan from Vidisha. Considering the OBC arithmetic in Madhya Pradesh, the party has fielded 8 OBC leaders out of 24 seats as the OBC population in the state is about 50%.

Within OBC, tickets have been given to the Kirar-Dhakad community on three seats, Kurmi on two, Kushwaha on one, Lodhi on one, and Maratha on one seat. Five Brahmin candidates are also on this list. One candidate each from Kshatriya-Rajput and Vaishya communities has been given a place in the first list. 2 former Congress leaders from Madhya Pradesh have been given tickets including Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, and Rahul Lodhi from Damoh. He had joined the BJP along with Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Talking about UP, the BJP has again relied on the backwards and Dalits. Of the 51 seats announced, 33 have been given to Backwards and Dalits (21 seats to OBCs and 22 to SCs). On the other hand, while Akhilesh Yadav is raising the slogan of PDA (Pichda, Dalit, Alpsankhyak), the majority of the candidates out of the list announced by the Samajwadi Party, belong to the OBC. Therefore, there will be an OBC Vs OBC fight in UP, while the BJP will also focus on Dalit and Muslim votes. In Western UP, BJP has given tickets to Jats, Gujars and OBC.s. The list includes the names of Pradeep Kumar (Gurjar) from Kairana, Jat leader Sanjeev Balyan from Muzaffarnagar, and OBC. leader Om Kumar from Nagina constituency. The list also finds names of SP Baghel, who hails from the Gaderiya community, Rajveer Singh Raju (Lodhi), son of former CM Shri Kalyan Singh, Smt Rekha Verma (Kurmi) from Dhaurhara, Rajesh Verma (Kurmi) from Seetapur constituency and Sakshi Maharaj (Lodhi). So, out of 51 candidates announced, 10 Brahmin faces and 7 Thakurs have been fielded, including one Parsi, Smriti Irani from Amethi. Lodhis and Kurmis are the core voters of the BJP in UP. With the help of Apna Dal (S) led by Smt Anupriya Patel, BJP will consolidate the Lodhi and Kurmi votes again. Similarly, 3 Jats, 2 Gurjars, one Mallah-Kashyap, One Nishad, and One Kushwaha candidate have been given the tickets.

Taking Jayant Chaudhary along, BJP will make strides in Jat Vote bank, especially helping the party in Western UP. The surprising name is Ajay Mishra Teni, who has been given the candidature again from Lakhimpur Kheri. After the farmer’s protest and the perception built regarding him across media and social media, it was expected that his name might not be visible in the list but the party considering the Vidhan Sabha election results has repeated his name for upcoming elections.

BJP is known for experiences and surprises, and the same comes from Rajasthan, where the party has given the name of Devendra Jhajharia, a celebrated Paralympian from Churu seat, replacing current MP Rahul Kaswan. Out of the 15 names announced, eight seats are allotted to OBCs while repeating the strong SC and ST candidates. Union Minister of Law Arjun Ram Meghawal will contest from the Bikaner seat, replacing Ram Swaroop Koli. In this way, the party has chosen five new candidates, retaining the rest of the candidates from 2019.

Last but not least, the party released its names from West Bengal as well, where it has always strived hard to increase its vote share. As soon as the list was released, the whole focus was on the name of Bhojpuri Singer Pawan Singh, who was given candidature from Asansol Lok Sabha. The singer took to social media to thank the party, but gave up the opportunity within 24 hours, after a massive backlash from the internet. Yet, the party believes that the Hindus of Bengal will indeed consolidate and vote against the misrule of the TMC.

The first list of the BJP has set the tone for Lok Sabha elections and the I.N.D.I.A bloc might be pressured to release their candidates as soon as possible. States like M.P., UP, Rajasthan, and Gujarat will be a cakewalk for BJP. All eyes will be on BJP’s list of Maharashtra and Bihar. The BJP leadership is yet to decide on a seat-sharing formula in both the states. Political pundits claim that BJP has already reached the saturation level in Lok Sabha seats across the nation, and even if the party’s vote share increases in South India, the increased vote share will not transform into seats. At the same time, the party is confident of increasing its lot from the North East and Tamil Nadu. Will the BJP be able to bag 370 seats on its own and prove all the predictions and pol-gurus wrong? The PM’s confidence says so, as he has already chalked out the plan for 100 days of Modi 3.0 Government.

Author: Ritwik Mehta