Bhupesh Baghel lost the Parliamentary elections in 2009 from Raipur. (FILE)

Former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel is back in the Lok Sabha elections race after nearly a decade. His name was announced today in the Congress party’s first candidate list for Lok Sabha electtions. Mr Baghel will contest the polls from Rajnandgaon, considered to be a BJP stronghold. Mr Baghel lost the Parliamentary elections in 2009 from Raipur.

BJP’s Santosh Pandey, who has been refielded from Rajnandgaon, has represented the constituency since 2014.

The 62-year-old served as the third Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh from 2018 to 2023. He was the president of Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress from 2014 to 2019, and currently represents the Patan constituency in the Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly.

Besides Mr Baghel’s name, five other candidates from Chhattisgarh have been announced: Shivkumar Dahariya has been fielded from Jangir-Champa, Jyotsana Mahant will contest from Korba, Rajendra Sahu from Durg, Vikas Upadhay from Raipur, Tamradhwaj Sahu from Mahasamund.

The Congress’ first list with 39 names features Rahul Gandhi but appears fairly limited compared to BJP’s 195 which included Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 34 Central and state ministers. The party has announced names for Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, Telangana and Tripura.

The list didn’t mention states that have the highest number of Lok Sabha seats – Uttar Pradesh (80), Maharashtra (48), West Bengal (42) and Bihar (40)

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, whose Bharat Jodo Yatra 2.0 is currently passing through Gujarat, will seek re-election from Kerala’s Wayanad seat. He may also contest from Amethi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra from Raebareli, a seat that was previously held by Sonia Gandhi. Both the seats are considered bastions of the Gandhi family and the local units of the Congress have demanded that the two scions of the Congress first family should contest from there.

Of the total 39 candidates announced, 15 are from Kerala, seven from Karnataka and six from Chhattisgarh, four from Telangana. Two from Meghalaya and one each from Nagaland, Tripura, Sikkim and Lakshwadeep.

Congress party’s second Election Committee meeting will be held on March 11 in Delhi to discuss the candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. The polls are likely to be held in April-May this year.


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