New Delhi: The Congress is wasting no time. Free from the shackles of an alliance in UP and having stitched one with the NCP in Maharashtra, it announced its second list of 21 candidates. Five of these names are from Maharashtra and the rest from UP.
In Maharashtra, it will be Priya Dutt from Mumbai North-Central, Milind Deora for Mumbai South, former Union minister Sushilkumar Shinde from Solapur, BJP defector Nana Patole from Nagpur and Dr Namdev Usande from Gadchiroli.
Dutt — daughter of the late Sunil Dutt — made her poll debut from Mumbai North Central in 2005 and retained the seat in 2009; it is currently represented by BJP’s Poonam Mahajan. Priya had earlier decided not to contest but was persuaded by Rahul Gandhi to do so.
Shinde had lost in 2014 to BJP’s Sharad Bansode during the Modi wave. Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar is likely to contest against him, this time. Nana Patole, who was BJP’s MP from Bhandara-Gondia constituency, joined the Congress in December 2017. He is expected to face Union Minister Nitin Gadkari in Nagpur. Dr Namdev’s rival is likely to be Ashok Nete, BJP’s sitting MP from this constituency.
BJP rebel Phule, BSP defector for UP
In UP, Raj Babbar has been fielded from Moradabad and former Union minister Sriprakash Jaiswal from Kanpur. With this, the Congress has declared 27 candidates from the electorally-crucial state.
Babbar had humbled Dimple Yadav, wife of Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, in the Firozabad by-poll in 2009. Subsequently, in 2014, he lost to General (retired) VK Singh in Ghaziabad. The other key candidates are BJP’s Dalit rebel MP Savitribai Phule and Kaiser Jahan, who had crossed over to Congress from Bahujan Samaj Party.
Phule will contest from Baharaich parliamentary seat, which is reserved for scheduled castes, and Jahan has been given a ticket from Sitapur. Laliteshpati Tripathi is grandson of Congress veteran, the late Kamlapati Tripathi. He will contest from Mirzapur where he has ancestral farmlands.
Another important Congress candidate is Rakesh Sachan from Fatehpur. Sachan has recently joined the party; he was earlier in the Samajwadi Party and is perceived to be an important backward caste (Kurmi) leader. Sanjay Singh, who is the last scion of the former princely state of Amethi, has been given a ticket from Sultanpur, a constituency held by Varun Gandhi who won the seat for the BJP.
It is 20-8 for Congress & JD (S)
The Congress and JD-S took their time but have finally given finishing touches to the seat sharing agreement in Karnataka. The division is 20-8, with the Congress getting the larger slice of the electoral pie. The two parties had been haggling over the Mysuru-Kodagu seat.
A part of the problem was that both parties have a base in Karnataka and a fair chance of winning – at least on paper. The JD(S) has nominated Deve Gowda’s grandsons Nikhil Kumaraswamy and Prajwal Revanna as candidates from party bastions of Mandya and Hassan, respectively.