Contrary to speculation that the ruling BJP would go in for an overhaul of its candidate list in order to counter anti-incumbency, the party has so far retained almost 82 per cent of its sitting lawmakers. However, the party has undertaken a massive pruning of its candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Of the 355 names declared by the BJP for the April-May elections, only 63 sitting MPs, or 18 per cent of the total, have been dropped. But of the 49 SC/ST seats from which BJP candidates had won in 2014 and for which names been announced, in almost half (24), sitting MPs have been dropped. It effectively means 38 per cent of the dropped parliamentarians belongs to these communities.
The BJP, which is contesting 400 seats in the elections, is yet to announce 45 names. Follow more election news here.
In 2014, 282 BJP candidates had won in all, with a quarter of them, 71, from the SC/ST communities — 40 SCs and 31 STs. Of the 84 reserved seats for SCs, the BJP had won 40, and of the 47 ST seats, 27. The other four of its winning SC/ST candidates were fielded from general seats.
In Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP won 71 seats in 2014, it has already announced candidates for 61 constituencies and dropped 15. Of them, eight are those who won from reserved constituencies.
Gearing up for a fierce battle to retain power at the Centre, the BJP is fighting anti-incumbency as it holds power in 10 states and is a part of the government in Bihar, Meghalaya and Nagaland. It also leads a coalition government in Goa. Assessing that it could lose a chunk of seats in the Hindi heartland, especially after its defeat in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in the November-December Assembly elections, the BJP leadership had initially wanted to go in for a massive pruning of the candidate list, party sources said.
Those removed include party veterans such as L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, indicating a generational shift.
In Madhya Pradesh, the party has so far dropped five sitting MPs, of which two each are from ST and SC communities. In Maha-rashtra, seven sitting lawmakers have been denied tickets, of them two SC and one ST.
In the list of all the 10 sitting MPs dropped from Chhattisgarh by the BJP, four belong to ST and one to SC communities. In Assam, the party has replaced five MPs with new faces so far. From Lakhimpur, the candidate is Pradan Baruah. Baruah had won the seat in a bypoll after Sarbanand Sonowal, an ST leader who had won in 2014, gave it up after becoming the Chief Minister of Assam.
In Jharkhand, the BJP has retained seven of its sitting MPs, changing only one, Karia Munda, an ST. Munda has been replaced with Arjun Munda. Of the two dropped in Himachal Pradesh, one is a sitting MP from Shimla, a seat reserved for SCs.
From Rajasthan, where the party had won all the 25 seats in 2014, the BJP had only one woman parliamentarian, Santosh Ahlawat from Jhunjhunu. She has been replaced with Narendra Khinchal — the only change of a sitting MP among the 16 seats for which names have been announced so far.