Lok Sabha polls: Shashi Tharoor, Mallikarjun Kharge, M Veerappa Moily among Congress' key candidates
Congress, which faces stiff challenge from the ruling BJP, will field president Rahul Gandhi from his bastion Amethi and UPA Sonia Gandhi from Rae Bareli
The Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases, beginning from 11 April and concluding on 19 May
Assembly elections to Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and Andhra Pradesh will also be held simultaneously
While Rahul Gandhi will fight from his bastion Amethi, UPA Sonia Gandhi will contest from Rae Bareli
The Congress party on Monday released its 11th list of candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections comprising five candidates from Goa, Chhattisgarh and Daman and Diu. The grand old party, which faces stiff challenge from the ruling BJP, will field president Rahul Gandhi from his bastion Amethi and UPA Sonia Gandhi from Rae Bareli. Speculations were also on that Rahul may contest from two seats this time, with the party's Kerala unit hinting he might file nomination from Wayanad too.
Congress has named 15 candidates in its first list, 21 in second, 18 in third, 27 in fourth, 56 in fifth, 3 in sixth, 34 in seventh and 38 in the seventh list in the run-up to the general elections.
The Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases, beginning from 11 April and concluding on 19 May. Assembly elections to Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and Andhra Pradesh will also be held simultaneously.
Here is a look at some of the key candidates, including some probables, that are being fielded by the Congress:
Shashi Tharoor - Thiruvananthapuram
The 63-year-old Congress leader is the incumbent MP from the constituency. Shashi Tharoor has held the seat since 2009 and this is his third election from here. The author of the book, Why I am a Hindu, Tharoor has been vocal against right-wing politics and Hindutva ideologies, as a result, often courting controversies. He is accused and is under investigation in a case related to the death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar. Tharoor has served as minister of state for external affairs and human resource development in the past. He will have to fight the anti-incumbency sentiment and is up against the BJP heavyweight Kummanam Rajasekharan.
MK Raghavan - Kozhikode
MK Raghavan is the incumbent MP from the Kozhikode constituency. He has represented the constituency twice — one in 2009 and then in 2014. Having served as the general secretary of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, the 66-year-old is a favourite in the constituency. He has been credited for bringing in funds for various projects.
Mohammad Javed -Kishanganj
Current Kishanganj MLA, Javed was elected as the Congress national secretary in 2018. In the 2015 Assembly elections, Javed had defeated his closest rival, BJP leader Sweety Singh, with 38,867 votes to win the Kishanganj Vidhan Sabha seat. His assets are reportedly worth around Rs 7.85 crore as per the affidavit he had filed in 2015.
Tariq Anwar - Katihar
A senior Congress leader, Anwar was the Union MoS for agriculture and food processing between 2012 and 2014. A five time Lok Sabha MP from Katihar, he had joined the Congress in 1972. In May 1999, Anwar, along with party members Sharad Pawar and PA Sangma had rebelled against the party's decision to field Sonia Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate ahead of the general elections and questioned her ability to rule the country in an open letter. Subsequently expelled from the party, the three leaders went on to form the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Anwar, however, resigned from NCP in September 2018 and rejoined the Congress in October that year.
Uday Singh alias Pappu Singh - Purnia
A former BJP MP from Bihar’s Purnia Lok Sabha seat, Uday joined the Congress in 2019. He has represented Purnia twice in the Lok Sabha. Quitting the saffron party, he had said that he saw Rahul's popularity growing even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, of whom he has been an ardent supporter, seemed to have withdrawn himself from reality. He also said that even as a BJP member he never approved of the slogan “Congress-mukt Bharat”. Singh had lost his seat to JD(U)’s Santosh Kushwaha in 2014 by a margin of more than 1 lakh votes.
Shatrughan Sinha (probable) - Patna Sahib
Actor-turned-politician and rebel BJP MP from Patna Sahib Lok Sabha constituency, Sinha is likely to join the Congress. The speculations come soon after the saffron party dropped him from the list of candidates released last week. Born in Patna, he first won the Lok Sabha seat in 2009 and 2014 as a BJP member. He, however, fell out with the party after the Bihar Assembly election in 2015. Ever since, he has been a strong critic of the BJP on several issues.
Neelam Devi (probable) - Munger
Devi, who has been trying to get a Congress ticket from Munger, is the wife of don-turned-politician and Mokama MLA Anant Singh. A three-time MLA, Singh was elected twice from Mokama Assembly seat on a JD(U) ticket before differences between him and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar came up. Singh is currently facing 18 criminal cases.
Bharatsinh Solanki - Anand
Solanki, who recently quit as president of the Gujarat Congress unit, has won the Anand Lok Sabha seat twice in 2004 and 2009, before losing to BJP’s Dilipbhai Patel in 2014. He has served as the Union MoS for power in 2009, railways in 2011 and drinking water and sanitation in 2012.
Hardik Patel (probable) - Jamnagar
Twenty five-year-old Patel, who joined the Congress on 12 March, rose to prominence in 2015 when he led an agitation by the Patidar community across Gujarat demanding its reservation in the OBC quota.
He is the convenor of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) which had led the protests. Patel had also backed the Congress in the Gujarat Assembly election in 2017.
Raju Parmar - Ahmedabad West
Parmar has been chosen to contest from Ahmedabad West, a seat reserved for Scheduled Category. Parmar was a Rajya Sabha member from 1988 to 2006, serving for three terms. He has held several portfolios as Member of Parliament. He has served as member of the National Commission for Schedule Caste under the UPA government.
Bhupinder Singh Hooda (probable) - Haryana
A senior leader of the grand old party, Hooda has served as Haryana chief minister between 2005 and 2014. He was also elected as a Lok Sabha MP four times – in 1991, 1996, 1998 and 2004 – from the Rohtak parliamentary constituency. In 2012, in a bid to encourage youngsters to take up Olympic sports, he had announced a cash reward of Rs 2.5 crore for any state athlete who managed to win a gold medal at the London Olympics. In 2018, the CBI named Hooda as the “main conspirator” in its chargesheet in the alleged Rs 1,000 crore Manesar land scam.
Deepender Singh Hooda (probable): Rohtak
Bhupinder Singh Hooda's son, Deepender is a three-time MP from the Rohtak Lok Sabha seat. He was the youngest MP to make a debut in the Lok Sabha in 2005. In 2014, he had declared his assets to be worth over Rs 35 crore.
Kumari Selja -Ambala
Selja is a four-time Lok Sabha MP (1991, 1996, 2004 and 2009) who has contested general elections from Sirsa and Ambala constituencies. In the UPA-II regime, the Dalit MP served as the Cabinet minister for housing and urban poverty alleviation and culture, tourism and social justice and empowerment. She is currently a Rajya Sabha MP. Her appointment as chairperson of the Congress screening committee for the Rajasthan Assembly elections in 2018 was seen as the Opposition's decision to attract Dalits.
From Himachal Pradesh
Virbhadra Singh (probable) - Mandi
The senior Congress leader has served as the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh four times. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1962, 1967, 1971, 1980 and 2009. In 2017 Assembly election, he had however lost. He has served as the Union minister for steel and micro, medium and small enterprises during the tenure of Manmohan Singh. Singh resigned from office in 2012 following charges in a graft case. A day before taking oath as the Himachal Pradesh chief minister in 2012, a CBI acquitted him of the corruption charges.
Swarup Das - Karimganj (SC)
The Congress party has nominated Swarup Das as its candidate in Karimganj. Das hails from Katlicherra, which is considered the stronghold of former Assam minister Gautam Roy. Situated in the Bengali-dominated Barak Valley, Karimganj is reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates. Over 50 percent of the population in the constituency is Muslim. Meanwhile, Anusuchit Jati Mahasabha, Central Committee, Assam has alleged Das forged his caste certificate following which a magisterial inquiry was instituted.
Sushmita Dev -Silchar
President of All India Mahila Congress, Dev will be seeking her second straight term from Silichar. In the 2014 elections, Dev beat BJP’s sitting MP Kabindra Purkhayastha by a margin of 35,000 votes. In the upcoming elections, Dev will face-off with BJP’s Rajdeep Roy Bengali. Prior to entering the Parliament, Dev was representing Silchar in the Assam Legislative Assembly.
Gaurav Gogoi - Kaliabor
Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi will be fighting his second election from Kaliabor. In the last election, Gogoi defeated Mrinal Kumar Saikia by a margin of 93,874 votes. In the 11 April election, Gogoi will fight Asom Gana Parishad’s Moni Madhab Mahanta. Son of former chief minister Tarun Gogoi, he holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from New York University.
Paban Singh Ghatowar - Dibrugarh
Former Union Minister Paban Singh Ghatowar will contest elections from Dibrugarh constituency. In the 2014 election, Ghatowar lost to BJP’s Rameshwar Teli by a margin of over 1.8 Lakh votes. In the 11 April election, Ghatowar will once again contest against Teli. Ghatowar has represented Dibrugarh five times between 1991 and 2014.
MGVK Bhanu - Tezpur
Retired bureaucrat MGVK Bhanu will be fighting his first Lok Sabha election from Tezpur. Bhanu, a 1985-batch IAS officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, served as the Additional Chief Secretary of Assam before retiring in July last year. He has also served as the Chairman of Tea Board of India. According to reports, he has worked closely with former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi as well as late Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Rajashekhar Reddy.
Pradyut Bordoloi -Nowgong
The senior Congress leader will be contesting from Nowgong against BJP’s Rupak Sarmah, who comes in place of Union Minister Rajen Gohain. Bordoloi represented Margherita Assembly constituency for four terms between 1998, when he won a by-poll, and 2016, when he finally lost his seat in the state elections. Bordoloi has also served as a minister in the Tarun Gogoi government, handling diverse portfolios.
Kamalnayan Choudhury (probable) - Gauhati
A senior advocate by profession, Kamalnayan Choudhury is likely to be nominated by the Congress to take on BJP’s Queen Ojha in Gauhati. Choudhury is known for his activism against illegal immigrants in Assam. The 55-year-old advocate has also challenged the legality of the Assam Accord in the Supreme Court.
Eshwar Khandre - Bidar
The working president of the Karnataka Congress Committee, Khandre will be fighting against BJP’s sitting MP Bhagwant Khuba. Khandre is the sitting MLA from Bhalki, having won the seat thrice in a row since the 2008 elections. He also served as minister in the Siddaramaiah government between 2016 and 2018 handling the portfolios of municipal administration and public enterprises.
CH Vijayashankar - Mysuru
CH Vijayashankar will be contesting from Mysore for the fifth time in his political career. Vijayashankar, who switched over to the Congress in 2017, won the Mysore Lok Sabha seat in 1998 and 2004 elections. However, in the 1999 elections, he lost to Mysore’s titular Maharaja Shrikanta Wadeyar. A decade later, he lost to Congress candidate AH Vishwanath. Vijayashankar has also served as forest minister in the BJP-led Karnataka government for less than year between 2010 and 2011.
Mallikarjun Kharge - Gulburga
The leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha will be fighting for his third consecutive term from Gulburga. The former Union minister will take on Umesh Jadhav, who until recently was associated with the Congress party. A seasoned Congressman, Kharge was elected to nine consecutive terms in the state Assembly between 1972 and 2008.
Shamnur Shivashankarappa - Davangere
Shamnur Shivashankarappa will be contesting against sitting MP and former Union Minister GM Siddeshwara. It is to note that Shivashankarappa is the father-in-law of Siddeshwara. A sitting MLA from Davangere South, Shivashankarappa holds immense influence in the Lingayat community. He is the president of the All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha, an influential organisation of the Lingayat community, which forms 17 percent of the population in Karnataka.
KH Muniyappa - Kolar
KH Muniyappa will be contesting from his pocket borough of Kolar in the upcoming elections. One of the senior-most members of the Parliament, Muniyappa is serving his seventh consecutive term in the Lok Sabha. During the UPA regime, Muniyappa held a number of portfolios, including shipping, roadways, railways, and MSMEs.
M Veerappa Moily - Chikaballapur
Former Union Minister Veerappa Moily will be seeking re-election from Chikaballapur, which he won in 2014 by a margin just over 9,000 votes. He will once again be taking on Bache Gowda of the BJP.
A Congress veteran, Moily was the chief minister of Karnataka between 1992 and 1994. Moily also held the portfolios of law and justice, petroleum and natural gas, corporate affairs, and environment and forests in the Manmohan Singh Cabinet.
Girish Chodankar - North Goa
Goa Congress president Girish Chodankar will be pitted against sitting BJP MP and Union AYUSH Minister Shripad Naik and Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) Pradeep Padgaonkar in North Goa. Chodankar contested the 2017 by-poll in Panaji against former chief minister Manohar Parrikar but lost. Chodankar came into spotlight in 2013 when Congress president Rahul Gandhi chose him as one of the All India Congress Committee secretaries.
Francisco Sardinha - South Goa
In South Goa, Francisco Sardinha will be facing sitting BJP MP Narendra Sawaikar and AAP's Elvis Gomes. Sardinha has represented South Goa thrice in the past. In 1998, he was elected from Murmagao, which later became South Goa. He returned to the Parliament in a 2007 by-poll and retained South Goa in the 2009 General Elections. Sardinha was also the chief minister for less than a year – with the support of the BJP – between 1999 and 2000.
From Andhra Pradesh
Shruti V Devi - Araku (ST)
Making a debut in politics, lawyer and social activist Shruti V Devi has already become one of the key candidates for the Congress. She contests the election from Araku constituency and is taking on her father and former union minister V Kishore Chandra Deo from Telugu Desam Party (TDP). Shruti will also contest against debutant G Madhavi from YSR Congess party. Hailing from the Kurupam royal family in Vizianagaram district, Shruti is known to have a low-key profile and is a certified member of the Konda Dora tribe. An advocate of gender justice, she hopes to win over the constituency, which is reserved for scheduled tribes, by promising jobs under the Forest Rights Act.
MM Pallam Raju - Kakinada
Hailing from the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, MM Pallam Raju is the grandson of freedom fighter Mallipudi Pallam Raju. In 1989, he became the youngest parliamentarian after he was elected from the Kakinada constituency at the age of 27. He won the elections from the constituency again in 2004 and 2009. However, in 2014, he was a distant third. In 2006, Raju was appointed Union minister of state for defence. In 2012, he became the union minister for human resource development.
Kanumuri Bapiraju - Narsapuram
A two-time parliamentarian, Kanumuri Bapiraju is the manifesto committee chairperson for the state. He has also served as the chairperson of the Tirumala-Tirupati Board for two terms. Bapiraju hails from the west Godavari district of the state and has been cabinet minister of Andhra Pradesh thrice. The 72-year-old politician is up against TDP candidate and industrialist Vetukuri Venkata Shiva Rama Raju.
Jesudasu Seelam - Bapatla (SC)
Seelam is a party heavyweight in Andhra Pradesh. The former IAS officer of Karnataka cadre, Seelam has served as a member of the Rajya Sabha twice. Seelam had quit the IAS to join politics in 1999. He contested the Lok Sabha elections from Bapatla on a Congress ticket but lost. He has since moved on to bigger roles. In 2013 he became a union minister of state for finance. Seelam belongs to the Mala community and will contest from the constituency after a decade.
Chinta Mohan - Tirupati (SC)
Chinta Mohan is a six-time parliamentarian since he began his political career in 1984. He won the seat from Tirupati on a TDP ticket before defecting to the Congress. The 65-year-old party veteran later won the Lok Sabha elections twice consecutively from the Tirupati constituency, once in 2004 and then in 2009 before losing to YSRC candidate Varaprasad Rao Velagapalli in 2014. The Congress veteran has held the post of Union minister of state for chemicals and fertilisers. Pitted against YSRC candidate Balli Durgaprasada Rao and former Congress leader Panabaka Lakshmi (now TDP), the senior politician has focussed his campaign on all-round development, irrespective of caste.
From Arunachal Pradesh
Nabam Tuki - Arunachal West
Nabam Tuki is a Congress veteran in this Northeastern state, where party hoping among candidates is common. The 55-year-old politician was the chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh from 2011 to 2016, when a political crisis led to the President’s rule. He took charge again in July 2016 but had to resign only three days later on account of the Arunachal Pradesh assembly floor test. Tuki has criticised the BJP-led central government over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, and said that the bill goes against the tribal people living in the state. He has been pitched against BJP heavyweight and union minister Kiren Rijiju.
James Lowangcha Wanglet - Arunachal East
James Lowangcha Wanglet has served in the state cabinet of Arunachal Pradesh. Hailing from the royal family of the Iowangs of Namsang-Borduria, Wanglet has been an active student politician before joining electoral politics in the seventies. He is a founding member of the Peoples’ Party of Arunachal and has had stints in several national parties including the Janata Dal and the BJP. In fact in 2014, he contested the state legislative elections on a BJP ticket but has since defected to the Congress.
Atal Shrivastav - Bilaspur
Known to be close to party chief Rahul Gandhi, Atal Shrivastav is contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Bilaspur. Hailing from Bilaspur, Shrivastav is known as an activist in the field of education and has worked towards better implementation of the Right to Education Act. Shrivastav is also the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary and is known to be close to chief minister Bhupesh Baghel. While this constituency has not been held by a Congress candidate ever, the party is hopeful that Shrivastav will be able to pull a win.
Pramod Dubey - Raipur
Mayor of the Raipur Municipal Corporation, Pramod Dubey will contest the seat from the capital, which has been a BJP bastion since 1996. Dubey, who was vice president of the Chhattisgarh Youth Congress, is expected to ride high on his success in the mayoral elections in 2015 and sway votes in his favour. He has also been pivotal in bringing projects to make Raipur a smart city. A sigh of relief for Dubey came after the BJP dropped seven-time MP Ramesh Bais.
Dhanendra Sahu - Mahasamund
A five-time MLA from Abhanpur, Dhanendra Sahu will contest his first Lok Sabha elections. He has also served as the chairperson of the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress. Sahu has been assigned with the colossal responsibility of bringing the seat back to the Congress. Party heavyweight Vidya Charan Shukla has been elected from this constituency six times and former chief minister Ajit Jogi, too, has represented this constituency, before it fell to BJP in 2009.
From Jammu and Kashmir
Vikramaditya Singh (Probable) - Udhampur
A former MLA from the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples’ Democratic Party, Vikramaditya Singh joined the Congress in 2018. This is the first time the Rajput candidate will contest the Lok Sabha elections. Grandson of the last Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh, Vikramaditya has a big responsibility to shoulder. He has been pitted against union minister and BJP candidate Jitendra Singh, also a Rajput. The constituency has primarily voted for the Congress with a few exceptions including the 2014 Lok Sabha elections when Jitendra was elected MP.
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