Rahul Gandhi to recontest from Wayanad as Cong announces first list of 39 candidates for LS polls

Rahul Gandhi to contest from Wayanad again as Congress announces LS candidates
Rahul Gandhi to contest from Wayanad again as Congress announces LS candidates
Rahul Gandhi to contest from Wayanad again as Congress announces LS candidates
Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi | Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will contest the Lok Sabha polls from Kerala's Wayanad once again as the party announced its first list of 39 candidates on Friday.

Former Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel has been fielded by the party from Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh, AICC general secretary K C Venugopal from Alappuzha (Kerala) and Shashi Tharoor renominated from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala.

However, the party has denied ticket to sitting MP T N Prathapan from the Thrissur constituency, while Venugopal will contest from the lone seat that the Congress lost last time. Tharoor will be contesting from the seat for the fourth time in a row from Thiruvanathapuram.

Venugopal said the first list has 15 general category candidates while 24 are from the SC, ST, OBC and minority communities. He also said there are 12 candidates below the age of 50 years, eight between 50 and 60 years, 12 between 61-70 and seven from 71-76 years.

There are, however, only three women candidates among the first list of 39 candidates.

Congress treasurer Ajay Maken said the list has a good mix of youth and experienced leaders, besides those who have been associated with the Congress party from their student and youth days and are connected with the grassroots.

"The Central Election Committee had met yesterday and has selected 39 candidates in the first list, which includes former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and former Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel," he announced at a press conference.

Asked whether senior leaders have been asked to contest the Lok Sabha polls, Venugopal said this is the Lok Sabha election which will decide the future of the country.

"Our target is to win the maximum number of seats in this Lok Sabha election to eradicate this fascist government. That is the target. We are searching (candidates) for winning each and every seat wherever we can win.

"Senior leaders are there in this list and will be there in coming lists also," he said, indicating many senior leaders would figure in the forthcoming lists of the party.

Among the candidates declared, six are from Chhattisgarh, seven from Karnataka, 16 from Kerala, four from Telangana, two from Meghalaya and one each from Sikkim, Nagaland, Tripura and Lakshadweep.

Among the candidates declared by the party after the CEC cleared it, include Bhupesh Baghel from Rajnandgaon, Shivkumar Dahariya from Jangir-Champa (SC), Jyotsana Mahant from Korba, Tamradhwaj Sahu from Mahasamund, Rajendra Sahu from Durg, Vikas Upadhyay from Raipur (all from Chhattisgarh).

Besides, D K Suresh, brother of Karnataka deputy chief minister D K Shivakumar, has been fielded once again from the Bangalore Rural constituency, H R Algur (Raju) from Bijapur (SC), Anandaswamy Gaddadevara Math from Haveri, Geetha Shivarajkumar from Shimoga, M Shreyas Patel from Hassan, S P Muddahanumegowda from Tumkur and Venkataramegowda (Star Chandru) from Mandya in Karnataka.

In Kerala, Rahul Gandhi will contest from Wayanad, K C Venugopal from Alappuzha, Rajmohan Unnithan from Kasaragod, K Sudhakaran from Kannur, Shafi Parambil from Vadakara, M K Raghavan from Kozhikode, V K Sreekandan from Palakkad, Ramya Haridas from Alathur (SC), K Muraleedharan from Thrissur, Benny Behanan from Chalakudy, Hibi Eden from Ernakulam, Dean Kuriakose from Idukki, party's chief whip in Lok Sabha Kodikunnil Suresh from Mavelikkara (SC), Anto Antony from Pathanamthitta, Adoor Prakash from Attingal and Shashi Tharoor has been renominated from his Thiruvananthapuram constituency.

For the Lakshadweep (ST) seat, the party has fielded Mohd Hamdullah Sayeed, while in Meghalaya, former chief minister Vincent H Pala will contest from Shillong (ST) and Saleng A Sangma from the Tura (ST) seat which the TMC was earlier demanding.

For the lone Nagaland seat, S Supongmeren Jamir has been fielded while in Sikkim the party has fielded Gopal Chettri.

In Telangana, the party has fielded Suresh Kumar Shetkar from Zahirabad, Raghuveer Kunduru from Nalgonda, Challa Vamshi Chand Reddy from Mahbubnagar and Balram Naik Porika from Mahabubabad (ST).

For the Tripura (West) seat, the Congress has fielded Ashish Kumar Saha in its first list.

The announcement came a day after the CEC finalised the names for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections following a discussion on over 60 Lok Sabha seats from 11 states and Union territories.

Discussions were held on Lok Sabha seats in Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Sikkim, Tripura, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya and Lakshadweep.

"We are in election mode and are on an aggressive path of campaigning with Rahul Gandhi undertaking the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra which is currently in Gujarat," Venugopal said.

The Nyay Yatra will end on March 17 in Mumbai with a mammoth rally and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge is writing to all INDIA bloc partners to attend that joint public rally, he said.

There are speculations that Rahul Gandhi may also contest from Amethi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra from Raebareli, a seat which was previously held by Sonia Gandhi. Both the seats are considered bastions of the Gandhi family and the local units of the Congress have demanded that the two scions of the Congress first family should contest from there.

Venugopal, however, did not answer questions on whether Rahul Gandhi would contest from Amethi too and said the seats will be declared after they are cleared by the CEC. He said the next meeting of CEC headed by the Congress chief would be held on March 11.

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