The Congress released its first list of candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections on Thursday, fielding UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi from Raebareli and party president Rahul Gandhi from Amethi.
The list, finalised at a meeting of the party’s central election committee chaired by Rahul Gandhi, comprises of 11 candidates from Uttar Pradesh and four from Gujarat.
Thursday’s announcement put an end to speculation that Sonia Gandhi may not contest in the upcoming polls due to health reasons and the party’s newly appointed general secretary in-charge (East UP) Priyanka Gandhi Vadra may be fielded from her constituency.
Interestingly, the Congress has announced 11 candidates for the electorally crucial state of UP where there is still no clarity on whether the party will go it alone or be a part of the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal grand alliance.
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Former UP Congress chief Nirmal Khatri will contest from Faizabad, while Bharatsinh Solanki, the party’s ex-chief of the Gujarat unit, has been fielded from the state’s Anand constituency. The party has fielded Imran Masood from Saharanpur, Saleem Iqbal Shervani from Badaun, Annu Tandon from Unnao, Rajaram Pal from Akbarpur, and Brij Lal Khabri from Jalaun (SC).
Apart from Solanki, the other candidates named from Gujarat are — Raju Parmar from Ahmedabad West (SC), Prashant Patel from Vadodra, and Ranjit Mohansinh Rathwa from Chotta Udaipur (ST). Uttar Pradesh has 80 Lok Sabha seats out of which the Congress had won just two (Amethi and Raebareli) in 2014, while Gujarat has 26 seats and the Congress had drawn a blank in 2014. This is the sixth time Sonia Gandhi is contesting Lok Sabha polls while for Rahul it is fourth.
It is widely rumoured in the party circle that the party leadership will retain all of its winners in 2009 Lok Sabha election when the party had won 21 seats from India’s most populous state.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Congress could only manage to win two high profile seats of Rae Bareli and Amethi, considered the family bastion of the party’s first family.
SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and BSP’s Mayawati had in January announced the long-awaited SP-BSP alliance to take on the Bhartiya Janata Party in the upcoming Lok Sabha Polls. The alliance is expected to upset the arithmetic for the saffron party which bagged 73 of 80 parliamentary seats in the last general elections in 2014.