The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday released its first list of 59 candidates for the polls to the 70-member Uttarakhand Assembly, with Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami to contest from his current constituency Khatima.
The party, which had won 57 seats in 2017, has dropped 10 sitting MLAs, including Ritu Khanduri Bhushan, daughter of former chief minister B C Khanduri.
Union minister Pralhad Joshi said the list has six women, and asserted that the party will fight the polls on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision for Uttarakhand and also the work of its state government.
In the list, 22 candidates are Thakur, the most numerous caste in the state, 15 are Brahmins, 13 Scheduled Castes and three from the trading community.
State BJP president Madan Kaushik will again contest from Haridwar, while names of ministers like Satpal Maharaj and Dhan Singh Rawat are also in the list, which also includes the name of Ramsharan Nautiyal, father of singer Jubin Nautiyal.
From Nainital, the party has fielded Sarita Arya, who quit the Congress to join it a couple of days back.
Among the 11 seats for which the BJP has not named its candidates in the first list are Kotdwar and Doiwala.
Harak Singh Rawat, who was expelled from the BJP recently, represents Kotdwar while former chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat is an MLA from Doiwala.
The former chief minister has told the party that he does not want to fight the polls.
Joshi and BJP general secretary Arun Singh said the party will win again with a big mandate and claimed that the state saw development under its rule after facing 'step-motherly' treatment during the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance dispensation of 10 years.
Rail tracks were laid in the state, Char Dham infrastructure developed and over Rs 10,000 crore spent on building roads outside the 'PM Gramin Sadak Yojna", Joshi said about the work undertaken in the last five years.
The party has also dropped Dwarahat MLA Mahesh Negi, who has been accused of rape.
He has been replaced by Anil Shahi.
Yamkeshwar MLA Ritu Khanduri Bhushan has been dropped and Renu Bisht fielded from the seat.
Other MLAs who failed to get a party ticket are Munni Devi from Tharali, Surendra Singh Negi from Karnaprayag, Kunwar Pranav Singh 'Champion' from Khanpur, Mukesh Singh Koli from Pauri, Meena Gangola from Gangolihat, Balwant Singh Bhauryal from Kapkot and Raghunath Singh Chauhan from Almora.
Kashipur MLA Harbhajan Singh Cheema has been replaced with his son Trilok Singh Cheema.
By dropping controversial legislators like Pranav Singh 'Champion' and Mahesh Negi, the party has given the message that indiscipline will not be tolerated, and anti-incumbency against several MLAs at local level may also have been a reason behind dropping others.
Independent MLAs Pritam Singh Panwar and Ram Singh Kaira, who joined the BJP last year, have been fielded from Dhanolti and Bhimtal respectively.
Purola MLA Rajkumar, who joined the saffron party last year, did not get a ticket from the seat as he has been replaced by Durgeshwar Lal, who joined the party on Thursday.
The ruling party has fielded Savita Kapoor, the wife of eight-time MLA from the Cantonment area late Harbans Kapoor, from the seat, while it has gambled on Suresh Chauhan in Gangotri.
Gopal Singh Rawat, the MLA from Gangotri, died last year.
Wife of Kunwar Pranav Singh 'Champion' Kunwarani Devyani has been fielded from her husband's seat, Khanpur.
Kailash Sharma has been fielded from Almora in place Raghunath Singh Chauhan, who represents the seat in the Assembly.
State BJP vice-president Devendra Bhasin said the list is very balanced and the party will easily achieve its target of winning more than 60 seats due to the 'winnability' factor of the candidates.
Assembly polls will be held in the state on February 14.