The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has sprung a surprise by fielding three Union ministers along with four other sitting MPs, including Narendra Singh Tomar, for the upcoming Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh.
The second list of 39 candidates was released on Monday, hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a rally in Bhopal.
The list also includes the name of BJP's national General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya from Indore-1.
Importantly, Vijayvargiya will be contesting the Vidhan Sabha polls a decade after he won the Mhow seat for the second time in 2013. On the other hand, Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar will contest Assembly elections after two decades. He had last won Assembly polls from Gwalior for the second straight time in 2003.
The list of 39 candidates released by the party includes the names of three Union ministers -- Minister of State for Food Processing Industries and Jal Shakti, Prahlad Singh Patel, from Narsinghpur; Agriculture Minister and the party’s state election management committee head Narendra Singh Tomar from Dimni-Morena; and Minister of State for Rural Development and Steel, Fagan Singh Kulaste from Niwas).
Four other Lok Sabha members -- Ganesh Singh from Satna, Riti Pathak from Sidhi, Rakesh Singh from Jabalpur-West, and Uday Pratap Singh from Gadarwara -- are in the fray for upcoming Assembly elections.
The move to field these heavyweight candidates seems to be the party's strategy to keep the race for the CM's post open, given that the BJP has not announced any name for the top post yet.
The list also includes the names of at least three Jyotiraditya Scindia loyalists, including former MLAs Raghuraj Singh Kansana (Morena) and Imarti Devi (Dabra-SC), and Hirendra Singh ‘Bunty Bana’ from ex-CM Digvijaya Singh’s pocket-borough Raghogarh, which is being represented by Singh’s ex-minister son Jaivardhan Singh for the past two terms.
The second list of 39 candidates was released by the BJP exactly 39 days after it released the first list of 39 candidates.
The opposition Congress is likely to release its list after the election dates are announced.