Shivraj, Scindia in BJP's first list of candidates from MP; Pragya Thakur dropped

Chouhan will contest his sixth election for the Lok Sabha from Vidisha

Shivraj Singh Chouhan meeting Jyotiraditya Scindia Shivraj Singh Chouhan meeting Jyotiraditya Scindia

The BJP's first list of  24 candidates for Lok Sabha from Madhya Pradesh featured former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, while Bhopal MP Pragya Singh Thakur was replaced by another candidate.    

The party on Saturday released a list of 195 candidates.  Chouhan, who led the BJP to victory in the last year's assembly elections yet was replaced by Mohan Yadav as CM, will contest his sixth election for the Lok Sabha from Vidisha, a seat represented by BJP stalwarts like late Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1991) and Sushma Swaraj (2009 and 2014), and newspaper publisher Ramnath Goenka (1971). 

The party fielded Alok Sharma, a former mayor, from Bhopal in place of sitting MP Pragya Singh Thakur who is an accused in the Malegaon blast case and who has courted controversy many times due to her statements. Thakur had defeated Congress stalwart Digvijaya Singh in 2019 by a margin of 3.65 lakh votes. The saffron party did not announce its candidate from Chhindwara. 

There was speculation until a few days ago about Congress veteran Kamal Nath and his son and sitting MP Nakul Nath planning to switch sides. The Naths, however, denied that they would be joining the BJP. 

Union ministers Faggan Singh Kulaste and Virendra Singh Khatik were fielded from their current constituencies. In 2019, the BJP had won 28 out of 29 Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh. The party on Saturday announced new candidates for 11 seats while repeating 13 sitting MPs in its list of 24.  

The seats where new candidates were announced are Morena, Gwalior, Sagar, Bhopal, Damoh, Sidhi, Jabalpur, Hoshangabad, Ratlam, Vidisha and Guna.  

The seats where sitting MPs were given another chance include Bhind (Sandhya Rai), Tikamgarh (Union Minister Virendra Kumar), Khajuraho (state BJP president V D Sharma), Satna (Ganesh Singh), Rewa (Janardan Mishra), Shahdol (Himadri Singh), Mandla (union minister Faggan Singh Kulaste), Rajgarh (Rodmal Nagar), Dewas (Mahendra Singh Solanki), Mandsaur (Sudhir Gupta), Khargone (Gajendra Patel), Khandwa (Gyaneshwar Patil) and Betul (Durgadas Uikey).  

In November 2023 assembly elections, the BJP had fielded seven MPs including union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Prahlad Patel.  

After winning elections, Tomar,  MP from Morena, became Speaker of the assembly, while Patel, parliamentarian from Damoh, became the minister in the state cabinet.  

The MPs of Jabalpur (Rakesh Singh), Hoshangabad (Rao Uday Pratap Singh) and Sidhi (Riti Pathak) also won assembly elections, hence, new candidates were fielded from these seats. Rakesh Singh and Rao Uday Pratap Singh are now ministers in the state cabinet. MPs from Gwalior (Vivek Shejwalkar), Sagar (Rajbahadur Singh), Bhopal (Pragya Singh Thakur), Ratlam (Guman Singh Damor), Vidisha (Ramakant Bhargava) and Guna (KP Singh Yadav) did not figure in the  list. 

Jyotiraditya Scindia, 53, was fielded from Guna Lok Sabha seat, where he, as a Congress candidate, had faced defeat at the hands of the BJP's  K P Singh Yadav in 2019. 

Scindia had represented this seat four times, and is currently a Rajya Sabha member from Madhya Pradesh.  Shivraj Singh Chouhan, 64, represented Vidisha five times before becoming chief minister in November 2005. He is currently MLA from Budhni assembly segment which falls under the Vidisha Lok Sabha seat. 

Faggan Singh Kulaste, who won from Niwas assembly seat last year, was fielded from his Mandla Lok Sabha constituency again.  

Another union minister, Virendra Kumar Khatik, was again fielded from his Tikamgarh seat.  Ganesh Singh, the sitting MP who faced defeat in the 2023 assembly elections, was fielded again from Satna.   In Ratlam, sitting MP Guman Singh Damor was dropped in favour of woman candidate Anita Nagar Singh Chouhan.  

Lata Wankhede was fielded from Sagar Lok Sabha seat in Bundelkhand. There are a total of four women candidates in the list. Other new candidates include Ashish Dubey from Jabalpur, Darshan Singh Choudhary from Hoshangabad, Shivmangal Singh Tomar from Morena, Bharat Singh Kushwaha from Gwalior, Rajesh Mishra from Sidhi, and Rahul Lodhi from Damoh. Candidates for five seats -- Indore, Chhindwara, Balaghat, Ujjain and Dhar -- are yet to be announced. 

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