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Why BJP Is Focusing On These Seats

By Radhika Ramaseshan
April 24, 2024 09:53 IST
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Some have been cherry-picked to assert the BJP's supremacy over its allies or, significantly, its leaders who charted an independent course in the recent past.

IMAGE: Rekha Patra, the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from Basirhat, addresses a gathering ahead of the Lok Sabha elections at Basirhat in North 24 Parganas, March 29, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

From the Bharatiya Janata Party's perspective, in the past, the marquee seats that commanded the party's time, energy, and resources were those contested by its cherished leaders -- Lucknow (Atal Bihari Vajpayee), Gandhinagar (L K Advani), Vidisha (Sushma Swaraj), Varanasi (Narendra Modi), and Gorakhpur (Yogi Adityanath).

Or seats which the BJP was determined to wrest from the Opposition -- Amethi (Rahul Gandhi), Chhindwara (Kamal Nath), and Azamgarh (Akhilesh Yadav).

In the 2024 elections, it is not necessarily about investing in high-profile candidates -- at least candidates who have not acquired the cachet so far -- but rather about making a politically significant point to the Opposition wherever a non-BJP entity has had an advantage so far.

Of course, not all seats fall into this category. Some have been cherry-picked to assert the BJP's supremacy over its allies or, significantly, its leaders who charted an independent course in the recent past.

What are some of these constituencies, and who are the candidates?


At 31, Rekha Patra is the BJP's nominee from Basirhat in West Bengal, pitted against Haji Nurul Islam of the Trinamool Congress Party, who replaced actor Nusrat Jahan.

The BJP imbued Rekha with high symbolism because she was among the women of Sandeshkhali village who led the protests against the sexual harassment of women and land usurpation by TMC muscleman Sheikh Shahjahan, who is now suspended from the party.

Narendra Modi phoned her to say she was 'Shakti Swaroopa' (manifestation of power), invoking images associated with Goddess Durga.


At the other end of the social spectrum stands Amrita Roy, the BJP's candidate from Krishnanagar, which was won in 2019 by the TMC's Mahua Moitra.

Amrita traced her lineage to Krishna Chandra Roy's family of social reformers who, she revealed, had worked in the 18th century to 'save Sanatana Dharma'.

In a call to her, Modi emphasised the centrality of fighting corruption, an issue that the BJP hoped would resonate with Krishnanagar's voters after Mahua was accused of transacting an unlawful quid pro quo with a businessman.


She described herself as a 'daughter of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh', a 'typical Indian woman', an entrepreneur, a hospital administrator, and a trained Bharata Natyam dancer, but the multi-faceted Latha faces her first electoral test.

The BJP put her up against Asaduddin Owaisi from Hyderabad, a seat held either by Asaduddin or his father, Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi, since 1984.

The 49 year old was chosen over BJP veteran Bhagavanth Rao Pawar, who lost the 2014 and 2019 elections to Asaduddin.

Latha hit the ground running with a dare to Asaduddin. “I will campaign in each bylane of the Old City. If a single stone is hurled at me, Asaduddin will be answerable.”


She and her husband, Ravi Rana, a BJP politician, were in the news in 2022 for reciting the Hanuman Chalisa in front of Matoshree, the residence of Uddhav Thackeray, who was then the Maharashtra chief minister. Navneet was arrested and released.

In 2019, she won the reserved Amravati parliamentary seat as an Independent candidate. Although initially aligned with the undivided Nationalist Congress Party, she joined the BJP in 2023. Despite being a late entrant, the BJP overruled the claim of the Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde) candidate Anandrao Adsul, a former MP, and fielded Navneet.


The son of Nripendra Misra, who was Modi's principal secretary and now chairs the construction committee of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, Saket earned his political spurs as a nominee to the Uttar Pradesh legislative council. He is the BJP's candidate from Shravasti, a seat once held by UP veteran Kalraj Mishra.

Saket, an IIM-Calcutta graduate, was an investment banker abroad. He moved to India in 2016 and made Eastern UP his 'karmabhoomi', focusing on 'sustainable poverty alleviation'.

Poorvanchal is his maternal grandmother's birthplace, and his grandfather Badlu Ram Shukla was once elected from Bahraich, Shravasti's neighbour, in 1971 from the Congress.

Knowing Misra Senior's exalted place among the BJP's apparatchiks, the party is expected to go the whole hog to ensure victory for his son.


He expectedly lost his chance at being nominated again from Pilibhit, a constituency held interchangeably by his mother, Maneka Gandhi, and him since 1989. Varun criticised the Modi government albeit subtly, but he regarded himself as a 'conscience keeper'.

Maneka has got a ticket again from Sultanpur, but mother and son indicated their unhappiness with the BJP by staying away from a meeting addressed recently by Modi. The seat is a test for the new BJP candidate, Jitin Prasada.

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Radhika Ramaseshan
Source: source
India Votes 2024

India Votes 2024