Modi to contest again from Varanasi, 34 union minister in BJP's first list of 195 candidates

PM Modi in Kochi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File photo: PTI

New Delhi: The ruling BJP on Saturday announced Prime Minister Narendra Modi will fight again from Varanasi in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections as it named 34 Union ministers in the first list of 195 candidates. Candidates to 12 seats in Kerala were also announced.

The list also included two former ministers as well as Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla from Kota in Rajasthan.

Union ministers whose names have been announced by the BJP in the first list of candidates include Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Bhupender Yadav, Mansukh Mandaviya, Sarbananda Sonowal, Kiren Rijiju, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Arjun Ram Meghwal, G Kishan Reddy, Arjun Munda and Smriti Irani.

Announcing the list, BJP National General Secretary Vinod Tawde said the party is confident that it would form the government for the third term under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a much bigger mandate.

He also said the party has been working on further expanding its footprint across states and also to strengthen the ruling National Democratic Alliance. The list includes 28 women and 47 young leaders, he said.

The announced names included those for 51 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 20 in West Bengal and five in Delhi.

Modi has set a target for the BJP to win at least 370 seats on its own in this Lok Sabha election and more than 400 for the NDA.

The Election Commission is expected to announce the poll schedule later this month and the elections are likely to be held in April-May.

The BJP won 303 seats in the 2019 polls but currently it has 290 members in Lok Sabha for various reasons including some MPs recently resigning after winning assembly polls.

The announcement of the first list at a press conference at the party headquarters here follows an over five-hour-long meeting of the BJP's Central Election Committee (CEC) on Thursday night.

The CEC members, which included Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party's national president J P Nadda and Union ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh, had discussed the probables for states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Goa and Uttarakhand among others to finalise the nominees.

Before that, Shah and Nadda hat met Modi at his residence to hold consultations. The next CEC meeting is expected to be held next week to discuss further names.

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