In first list, BJP sticks to tried, tested names

Rajasthan BJP chief Vasundhara RajeRajasthan BJP chief Vasundhara Raje leaves after a meeting of the BJP election committee at the party office in New Delhi on Tuesday. Prem Nanth pandey

Walking a tightrope in poll-bound Rajasthan, the BJP played safe and has charted a list of mostly tried and tested faces. The party in its first list of 176 candidates declared Tuesday evening prioritised 'winnability' in each constituency.

The party even repeated candidates who lost out in previous elections from the same constituencies in the hope that they were known faces in their areas. These candidates are expected to close in on the sitting Congress legislators, who are battling anti-incumbency and have been repeated. Congress minister Brij Kishore Sharma, who has been repeated from Hawamahal constituency is pitted against former BJP legislator Surendra Pareek, a formidable candidate for the seat.

The party is also poised to give stiff competition to several prominent Congress leaders by pitting contenders with high `winnability'. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is likely to face heat on his home turf Sardarpura and as speculated, a Rajput candidate Shambhu Singh Khetasar has been fielded against him. Urban Development and Housing minister Shanti Dhariwal will face Prahlad Gunjal on the Kota (North) seat while Pratap Singh Khachariawas will be pitted against former BJP state president Arun Chaturvedi on the Civil Lines seat. It is being anticipated that the Congress too is planning to close in on BJP's chief ministerial candidate Vasundhara Raje on her home turf Jhalrapatan in Jhalawar and as a retaliatory measure the BJP is trying to keep the Congress leadership busier in their home constituencies.

The trusted faces will continue to hold fort in their respective constituencies such as Devi Singh Bhati from Kolayat, Rao Rajendra Singh from Shahpura, Gulab Chand Kataria from Udaipur and Dr Digambar Singh from Deeg Kumher. Former minister and prime accused in the Dara Singh fake encounter case Rajendra Rathore, however, has been shifted out of Taranagar to Churu. Raje dissenter Ghanshyam Tiwari got a ticket from Sanganer.

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