Brainstorming to finalize BJP candidates began on Thursday with the party's Central Election Committee (CEC) meeting on the upcoming assembly polls in West Bengal and Assam. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and party president JP Nadda huddled along with other members of the party's committee.
The members held deliberations on 86 Assam seats and 60 Bengal seats at the BJP headquarters on Thursday. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonawal, party state in-charge Baijayant Panda and other senior leaders were also present at the meeting, besides Assam poll in-charge Narendra Singh Tomar and co-incharge Jitendra Singh.
Meanwhile, the party sources told PTI that the CEC may clear the names of the candidates for most of the seats in the two states where elections will be held in the first two phases on March 27 and April 1. While the third and last phase of polling in Assam will be held on April 6, West Bengal is scheduled to undergo elections in eight phases ending on April 29.
The direct fight between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her former confidant, now BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram seat will be one of the high-profile contests in the high-stakes Bengal polls.
According to sources, the BJP CEC may meet again on Friday.
Polling in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry will take place in a single phase on April 6.
The BJP has high stakes in West Bengal and Assam. In Bengal, it has mounted an aggressive, all-out campaign, deploying a number of leaders drawn from various states and considered adept in poll campaigning, to end the 10-year-old reign of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
In Assam, where the party came to power for the first time in 2016, the BJP has been pulling out all the stops to retain power, with the Congress joining hands with regional parties to capture its old bastion.
According to sources, BJP could get 92-93 seats in Assam, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) 25-26 and UPPL 8. The seat-sharing arrangement is likely to be announced on Friday.
Before the CEC meeting, top BJP leaders like Shah and Nadda have held long deliberations with Assam party leaders, including Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and minister Himanta Biswa Sharma, and those from Bengal, including state party chief Dilip Ghosh.