New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday declared the names of its candidates for 17 seats in Punjab but withheld the announcement for six others, where the party has sitting MLAs, indicating that some of them could be dropped. These six seats include four being represented by ministers in the SAD-BJP government.
A couple of them could be dropped as they are over 75 years of age and some others are being seen more vulnerable in an election where the alliance is weathering 10 years of anti-incumbency. Union Minister J P Nadda, who is also party's Central Election Committee (CEC) Secretary, told reporters that the names of remaining candidates would be announced later. Five sitting MLAs are among the 17 candidates announced on Thursday.BJP has 12 MLAs in the outgoing Assembly.
It also fielded Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhina for the bypoll to Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, which fell vacant following the resignation of Congress leader Amarinder Singh, who had defeated Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in 2014 polls. Rajesh Hani will contest from Amritsar East, a seat held by Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who along with her husband Navjot Singh Sidhu has quit BJP.
She has joined Congress. The five MLAs in Thursday's list are Dinesh Singh Babbu, Seema Kumari, Ashwani Sharma, K D Bhandari and Sukhjeet Kaur Sahi from Sujanpur, Bhoa, Pathankot, Jalandhar North and Dasuya constituencies respectively. BJP's National Secretary Tarun Chugh will fight from Amritsar Central.
Some MLAs, who are likely to be dropped, are pitching for family members as party candidates. The CEC, which included Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, had met last evening to finalise the names. Sources said there are divergent views in the party over dropping some of the MLAs, causing a delay in the final announcement.
The notification for the state polls, to be held on February 4, was made on Wednesday and the last date of filing nomination is January 18. SAD-BJP is locked in a tough battle with Congress and AAP, which has emerged as a formidable third force in the state.