Repeating all ministers and most sitting MPs, the Congress on Saturday night released a list of 194 candidates from 18 states for the Lok Sabha elections. Party leaders said 35% of those announced are under the age of 50, to keep up with the commitment made by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul are candidates from their traditional pockets of Rae Bareli and Amethi respectively.
Bhojpuri filmstar Ravi Kishen, Oriya actors Aparajita Mohanty and Bijay Mohanty, cricketer Mohammed Kaif, Atal Bihari Vajpayee's niece Karuna Shukla, Justice Hanumanthappa, Aadhar chief Nandan Nilekani are some of the Congress' new faces. Vajpayee's 63-year old niece Karuna, who defected from BJP only a few days ago, has been given the Congress ticket from Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh while Gujarat Assembly Opposition leader Shankarsinh Vaghela is the party candidate from Sabarkantha and Nilekani from Bangalore South to take on BJP general secretary Ananth Kumar.
Thirteen candidates, all of them sitting members except for one, were announced from Maharashtra; Dhula's MP was replaced by Amrishbhai Patel while those repeated in Mumbai are general secretary Gurudas Kamat, secretary Priya Dutt, Union minister Milind Deora, Sanjay Nirupam and Eknathrao Gaikwad.
Former Union minister Vilas Muttemwar has been repeated from Nagpur and as has general secretary Mukul Wasnik from Ramtek and Union minister Manik Rao Gavit from Nandurbar. Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde will seek re-election from Solapur. Other sitting members chosen are from Shirdi, Sangli and Ratnagiri.
Former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan, who was speculated to contest from Nanded, does not figure in the first list. Nor does former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi. Amita Singh, wife of Amethi Raja Sanjay Singh, who was shifted to the Rajya Sabha from Assam amid speculation that he may join the BJP damaging votes of both Sonia and Rahul, is the party candidate from Sultanpur, the seat held by her husband.
For Rajasthan, only six candidates have been announced, including Union ministers Dr Girija Vyas and Jitendra Singh and sitting members Harish Choudhary from Barmer and Yuvraj Singh from Kota. Two new faces are Shankar Pannu who won the Bikaner primaries and PS Jat from Sikar.
Nine candidates have been announced for Gujarat. Seven of these are sitting MPs from Surendranagar, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Anand, Dahod, Bardoli and Valsad while Vaghela and Narainbhai Rathwa from Chhota Udaipur are the new faces.
As many as 22 candidates have been announced in case of Madhya Pradesh, which include Union ministers Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia as also former PCC chief Kantilal Bhuria. Satya Narayan Patel, who won the primaries, is the party candidate from Indore and so is Meenakshi Natarajan, who bagged the Mandsaur primaries. Ramesh Patel will contest from Khargone, Premchand Guddu from Ujjain, Sajjan Kumar Verma from Dewas and PC Sharma from Bhopal while Arun Yadav is being repeated from Khandwa.
Other seats for which the candidates were announced are Gwalior, Bhind, Sagar, Tikamgarh, Damoh, Khajuraho, Rewa, Sidhi, Shahdol, Jabalpur and Betul.
Among others, the Congress' first list has named 50 candidates from Uttar Pradesh, 17 from West Bengal, 14 from Karnataka, 10 from Assam, including Tarun Gogoi's son, Gaurav Gogoi, 10 from Bihar, nine from Odisha, seven candidates from Haryana, six from Jharkhand, four from Punjab, two each from Manipur and Tripura and one each from Andaman and Nicobar, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Meghalaya and Mizoram.