With the Election Commission likely to announce the schedule for general elections on Wednesday, hectic discussions are on within the BJP to declare candidates in the next few days.
The BJP last week came out with its first list with 54 candidates. The party has decided to meet again on March 8 and 13 to make some big announcements, which may also contain the names of senior leaders such as Narendra Modi. While, the BJP prime ministerial candidate has his eyes set on Varanasi, sitting MP and senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi is reluctant to shift to some other constituency.
Modi’s righ-hand man and the party’s Uttar Pradesh incharge Amit Shah has already gone public saying the Gujarat Chief Minister should contest from a seat in the state not just to energise the cadre but also to send out a larger message to the country. Sources said the party’s 19-member central election committee would meet on Saturday to take decisions on seats in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chandigarh, Punjab and Rajasthan.
A committee member told Express that the party was engaging with the state units to speed up the nomination process so that maximum numbers could be announced soon.
Several meetings were held in Delhi, where leaders from Uttar Pradesh were called in to discuss the list of probable candidates. The state has the highest number of Lok Sabha seats, 80.
State units of the party recommend names of probable candidates for each seat. The lists are finally discussed by the central election committee in the presence of the state leaders, who are asked to give reasons for picking up the candidates. In the case of a deadlock, the decision is left to the party president.
After the Saturday meeting, the committee is expected to meet on March 13 and finalise key lists before Holi (March 17). The polls are likely to begin from mid-April, but the last day of filing nominations would be March 31 for the first phase of voting.
Saturday is going to be a busy day for the BJP, as it will also witness that second round of “chai pe charcha”, the programme where Modi interacts with thousands of people through video conferencing. People gather to have tea, while Modi will answer their questions and put across his views. During the second round, the programme will be extended to 30 locations outside India spanning 15 countries.