New Delhi, Mar 21: The BJP Central Election Committee (CEC) had third round of elaborate meeting on Wednesday night but has not yet released the first list of candidates.
It being Holi festival day on Thursday, it was not clear whether names will be released on Thursday or Friday. In some constituencies for the first phase of polls, the party nominees will be pressed for time to file the nomination papers. Last date of filing nomination is March 25 for the first first phase of polls for 91 parliamentary constituencies spread over 10 states including West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Assam.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP Chief Amit Shah, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Health Minister J P Nadda and other senior leaders including UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath deliberated for about five hours to discuss the names of possible candidates in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
For West Bengal, the short list has been prepared and though formal names have not been announced and the probable candidates have been advised to prepare for filing of nominations at short notice.
In the first phase of polling on April 11, in West Bengal voting will take place for Coachbehar and Alipurduar. In a key decision, party's powerful Central Election Committee (CEC) on Wednesday past mid night decided to field Asansol lawmaker Babul Supriyo from the same seat in West Bengal.
The playback singer-turned-politician Mr Supriyo, Union MoS for Heavy Industries, is set to take on actress-turned-Trinamool leader Moon Moon Sen. However, in the initial discussions, no final decision has been made about sitting Darjeeling MP and another Minister S S Ahluwalia.
Reportedly, the name of former Uttarakhand lawmaker Satpal Singh Maharaj, who has a good Gorkha following, was also being considered for the seat. The BJP leadership is in favour of accommodating all former Trinamool leaders Arjun Singh from Barrackpore, Saumitra Khan from Bishnipur and Anupam Hazra from reserved Bolpur constituency.
However, Mr Hazra's candidature was being explored for a Kolkata seat as well, sources said.
BJP Mahila Morcha leader in the state Deboshree Chowdhury is to be party candidate from Raiganj - where CPI-M has renominated its sitting member Mohammad Salim. The saffron party's good show in 2014 had helped Mr Salim sail home from the seat last time by a narrow margin.
Former CPI-M leader and MLA Khagen Murmu, who joined BJP, is being actively considered as the party candidate from Malda Uttar. The party leadership also discussed about 20 other West Bengal seats and around 35-40 seats from Uttar Pradesh - where it wants to bring in new faces in several constituencies.
Even as candidates' list has not been announced, party sources indicated that once all pros and cons are considered and debated, the list of over 200 candidates across the country are expected to be released.
In the first phase 91 and in the second phase 97 parliamentary constituencies go to the polls. The BJP on Wednesday fast-paced electoral alliance with two smaller parties in Kerala. BJP leader P Murlidhar Rao said besides a faction of Kerala Congress, which will contest one seat; the regional BDJS will contest four and 14 will put up candidates in remaining 14.
Former Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan is likely to be the BJP’s candidate from Thiruvananthapuram while BDJS chief Thushar Vellappally is likely to be the candidate from Thrissur.
Former Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan, who joined BJP recently, is likely to be one of the party candidates in the southern state -- where the saffron party is 'determined' to stage a major surprise, sources said.
The first list is likely to have the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Varanasi too. It is not yet clear whether Mr Modi will contest from any other seat too.UNI