Congress announces initial list of candidates for Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh Assembly polls

The grand old party announced 144 candidates for the Madhya Pradesh elections and 30 candidates for the Chhattisgarh polls.

BySouth First Desk

Published Oct 15, 2023 | 12:49 PMUpdatedOct 15, 2023 | 1:50 PM

Congress Working Committee Mallikarjun Kharge Rahul Gandhi

The Congress on Sunday, 15 October, announced its initial list of candidates for the key Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The grand old party announced 144 candidates for the Madhya Pradesh elections to be held in two phases on 7 and 17 November, and 30 candidates for the Chhattisgarh polls, which will be held on 17 November.

The party also announced 55 candidates for the 30 November Telangana state Assembly polls.

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Madhya Pradesh

In Madhya Pradesh, the party fielded former chief minister and PCC chief Kamal Nath from his Chhindwara Assembly constituency.

Former chief minister Digvijaya Singh’s son Jaivardhan Singh has been fielded from the Raghogarh seat. He was a minister in the last Kamal Nath government.

Another former minister in the state, Vijay Laxmi Sadho, who has been a former Rajya Sabha member, has been fielded from the Maheshwar-SC Assembly seat. Former cabinet minister Jitu Patwari has been fielded from the Rau Assembly constituency.

Following the announcement of the candidates’ list, the Congress also announced that it would implement a 27_percent reservation for the Other Backward Classes (OBC) communities in the state.

The party has been batting for a nationwide caste census demanding equal reservation with regard to the population of the communities.

Actor fielded against CM Chouhan

Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Dr Govind Singh has been fielded from the Lahar constituency in Bhind district.

The Congress has fielded actor Vikram Mastal against Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and BJP candidate Shivraj Singh Chouhan from Budhni in the Sehore district. Mastal has played the role of Lord Hanuman in the cable TV serial Ramayan, which aired in 2008.

Former BJP MP Bodh Singh Bhagat, who recently joined the Congress, has been fielded from Katangi in the  Balaghat district.

The first list of Congress candidates also includes former ministers Ajay Singh (Churhat), Ramnivas Rawat (Vijaypur), Lakhan Singh Yadav (Bhitarwar), Harsh Yadav (Deori), Mukesh Nayak (Pawai), Kamleshwar Patel (Sihawal), Lakha Ghanghoriya (Jabalpur-East), Tarun Bhanot (Jabalpur-West), Omkar Singh Markam (Dindori), Sukhdev Panse (Multai), Sajjan Singh Verma (Sonkatch), Vijay Laxmi Sadho (Maheshwar), Sachin Yadav (Kasrawad), Bala Bachchan (Rajpur), Jitu Patwari (Rau), Priyavrat Singh (Khilchipur) and Narendra Nahta (Manasa).

They served as ministers either during the previous Kamal Nath government or the Digvijaya Singh-led regime of the Congress in the state earlier.

In the Bhopal district, the Congress has fielded Manoj Shukla from Narela seat, sitting MLA Arif Masood from Bhopal Central and Jaishri Harikiran from Berasia.

In Indore city, the Congress has given the ticket to sitting MLA Sanjay Shukla from the Indore-1 seat, where the BJP has fielded its national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya.

The Congress has fielded Chintamani Choukse Chintu from Indore-2 and Raja Mandhwani from Indore-4.

The ruling BJP has so far announced the names of its 136 candidates, including seven Lok Sabha members. These include three Union ministers — Narendra Singh Tomar, Prahlad Singh Patel and Faggan Singh Kulaste.

In the 2018 Assembly polls, the Congress won 114 seats in the 230-member House and formed a coalition government under veteran leader Kamal Nath with the support of the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, and independent MLAs.

The Nath government, however, collapsed after 15 months when a section of Congress MLAs, most of them loyal to Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, quit the party and joined the BJP.

The saffron party returned to power in March 2020 with Shivraj Singh Chouhan taking over as chief minister for a record fourth term.

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In Chhattisgarh, the party fielded its chief minister Bhupesh Baghel from his Patan assembly constituency and deputy chief minister TS Singh Deo from the Ambikapur Assembly seat.

Another senior minister Tamradhwaj Sahu has been fielded from the Durg Rural Assembly seat while Chhattisgarh Assembly Speaker Charan Das Mahant has been fielded from the Sakti Assembly seat.

Pradesh Congress chief Deepak Baij has been fielded from the Chitrakot-ST Assembly seat. He is currently the sitting Lok Sabha MP from Bastar.

Former PCC chief and now minister Mohan Markam has been fielded from the Kondagaon-ST Assembly seat he previously represented.

Out of the 30 seats for which the Congress has announced its candidates, 14 are reserved for the Scheduled Tribe and three for Scheduled Caste categories.

In the rest of the 13 general seats, candidates belonging to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) have been fielded in nine seats. Four women candidates, including a sitting minister and two MLAs, are on the list.

Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel will contest from his traditional Patan seat and Deputy Chief Minister TS Singh Deo from his Ambikapur seat, while Chhattisgarh assembly speaker Charan Das Mahant has been re-nominated from his Sakti seat.

The ministers who have been given tickets are – Tamradhwaj Sahu (Durg rural), Amarjeet Bhagat (Sitapur- ST), Umesh Patel (Kharsia), Jai Singh Agrawal (Korba), Shivkumar Dahariya (Arang-SC), Anila Bhendia (Dondi Lohara- ST), Ravindra Choubey (Saja), Mohammad Akbar (Kawardha), Kawasi Lakhma (Konta) and Mohan Lal Markam (Kondagaon).

Minister Guru Rudra Kumar, who contested the 2018 poll from the Ahiwara seat (Durg district), has been fielded from the Navagarh (SC) constituency in the neighbouring Bemetara district.

Congress sitting MLA from Navagarh Gurudayal Singh Banjare does not feature in the list released on Sunday.

State Congress chief and Bastar Lok Sabha member Deepak Baij has been fielded from the Chitrakot (ST) seat.

Baij won the 2018 Assembly election from Chitrakot, but he vacated the seat after winning the Lok Sabha poll in 2019. Congress candidate Rajman Benzam had won the bypoll held for the seat.

The other candidates who have been fielded replacing sitting MLAs from their seats are Neelkanth Chandravanshi (Pandariya seat), Bhola Ram Sahu (Khujji), Roop Singh Potai (Antagarh-ST), Shankar Dhruv (Kanker-ST), Harshita Swami Baghel (Dongargarh-SC), and K Chhavindra Mahendra Karma.

Except for former MLAs Bhola Ram Sahu and Shankar Dhruv, the four others are fresh faces.

Karma is the son of sitting MLA Devti Karma and late Congress leader Mahendra Karma. Neelkanth Chandravanshi is the president of the Kabirdham district unit of Congress, while Harshita Swami Baghel is a member of the Rajnandgaon Zila Panchayat.

Congress leader and Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation Chairman Girish Dewangan has been fielded from Rajnandgaon seat against Raman Singh, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s national vice president and former chief minister of the state.

Yashoda Verma (Khairagarh), Daleshwar Sahu (Dgongargaon), Indrashah Mandavi (Mohla-Manpur ST), Savitri Mandavi (Bhanupratappur-ST), Sant Ram Netam (Keshkal-ST), Chandan Kashyap (Narayanpur-ST), Lakheshwar Baghel (Bastar-ST) and Vikram Mandavi (Bijapur-ST) are other incumbent MLAs who have been repeated this time.

Of the nine OBC candidates featured in the list, three belong to Sahu, a dominant OBC community in the state that hugely contributed to Congress’ victory in the previous polls.

The results will be declared on 3 December.

(With PTI inputs)