M A I N   N E W S

Sonia, Rahul, Meira, Nandan in Cong first list of 194 candidates
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

The break-up
One-third candidates under 50 years
Over 60 sitting MPs named
Top contenders: Sonia Gandhi (Rae Bareilly), Rahul Gandhi (Amethi), Sushil Kumar Shinde (Solapur); Salman Khurshid (Farukhabad), Girija Vyas (Chittorgarh), Amita Singh (Sultanpur), Preneet Kaur (Patiala)
Vajpayee’s niece Karuna Shukla candidate from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh
Vilas Muttemwar to fight BJP’s Nitin Gadkari in Nagpur

New Delhi, March 8
The Congress today sounded the poll bugle for the Lok Sabha elections. It announced its first list of 194 candidates led by party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who will again seek mandate from their respective constituencies of Rae Bareilly and Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.

Most sitting MPs have been repeated, with a one-third selected today being young sitting MPs. The party struck a fine balance in its first list by bringing in fresh faces from different professions and fields at a time Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party is giving a chance to novices. While Aadhaar chief Nandan Nilekani has been named the candidate from Bangalore South, Bhojpuri actor Ravi Kishen will contest from UP’s Jaunpur and cricketer Mohd Kaif from Phulpur. Senior jurist Justice NY Hanumanthappa has been fielded from Bellary where it hopes to take on the mighty Bellary brothers still eyeing a BJP alliance.

Prominent political leaders who crossed over to the Congress on poll eve have also been suitably rewarded despite opposition from state units and despite Rahul Gandhi’s recent promises that outsiders won’t be preferred over Congress men.

Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s niece has been given the Bilaspur Lok Sabha ticket that she had sought against the wishes of local Chhattisgarh leaders. They had even written to the party high command not to ignore their claim. From Maharashtra, former Shiv Sena strongman Bhausaheb Wakchaure has been named the candidate from Shirdi local resentment notwithstanding.

Top Congress leaders in today’s list include Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar (Sasaram, Bihar, her LS seat); Shanker Singh Vaghela (senior Gujarat Congress leader from Sabarkantha earlier represented by Rahul’s close adviser Madhusudan Mistry); ministers Sushilkumar Shinde (Solapur SC, Maharashtra); Salman Khurshid (Farukhabad, UP); Girija Vyas (Chhitorgarh, Rajasthan); Mallikarjun Kharge (Gulbarga SC, Karnataka); BK Handique and Ranee Narah from Assam’s Jorhat and Lahimpur segments, respectively.

A clear message was sent through today’s list: the Congress wants all newly appointed young state unit presidents to contest. So, the party named Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Arun Yadav as its official candidate from Khandwa, which he currently represents. Most young MPs of Rahul’s brigade have been re-fielded. Prominent among them are minister Jyotiraditya Scindia (Guna, MP); AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik (Ramtek reserved, Maharashtra); Sanjay Nirupam (Mumbai North); Priya Dutt (Mumbai North Central); Milind Deora (Mumbai South); MoS Defence Jitender Singh (Alwar, Rajasthan); AICC secretary in charge of Punjab Harish Choudhary (Barmer); ministers Jitin Prasada and RPN Singh from UP’s Dhaurahra and Kushi Nagar, respectively, and Annu Tandon (Unnao, UP).

From Punjab, young MPs Vijay Inder Singla and Ravneet Bittu have been named again from Sangrur and Anandpur Sahib. Likewise, in Haryana, young MPs have again been trusted to win their seats, as reported first by The Tribune yesterday. They are Naveen Jindal (Kurukshetra); Shruti Choudhary (Bhiwani), Deepender Hooda (Rohtak) and Avtar Bhadana (Faridabad) among others.





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