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Congress Lok Sabha Election First Candidates List: 16 candidates have been announced for Kerala.

New Delhi: Less than a week after the BJP announced its first list of 195 candidates, the Congress has come up with its answer in the form of 39 names, including those of Rahul Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor and Bhupesh Baghel.

Rahul Gandhi will contest from Wayanad in Kerala but it is not clear whether he will also be fielded from Amethi, like in 2019. Shashi Tharoor will fight from Thiruvananthapuram, a seat he has held for three terms, while Mr Baghel will contest from Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh.

Some of the other big names on the list are Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal, who will contest from Alapuzzha in Kerala – a seat he had won in 2009 – and DK Suresh, brother of Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar, who has been fielded from Bengaluru Rural. 

The names have been announced primarily for some southern and northeastern states and the only outliers are Chhattisgarh and the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. At 16, the bulk of the candidates have been announced from Kerala, where the Congress is expected to leave the remaining four seats for its allies. 

Seven names have been announced from Karnataka, six from Chhattisgarh and four from Telangana. The remaining are from Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Lakshadweep.

The focus on the south is deliberate because not only does the Congress have its governments in the states of Karnataka and Telangana, but it is also the only region in the country where the BJP is relatively weak. 

Focus On Communities

While announcing the names on Friday, Mr Venugopal said the candidates had been picked by the Congress Central Election Committee. He emphasised that 24 of the 39 candidates are from the OBC, SC, ST and minority communities. 

Sources said this list is a start and more names can be expected as the INDIA alliance finalises seat-sharing in some of the remaining states, including Maharashtra. Deciding on pacts for the state, which sends the second-highest number of MPs to the Lok Sabha, has proved to be troublesome for both the NDA and the INDIA alliances. 

Another reason behind the delay could also be the fact that Rahul Gandhi is busy with the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, which is in Gujarat and will end in Mumbai on March 17. Mr Venugopal said there will be a massive rally in the city on that day and the leaders of all INDIA party leaders are being invited for it.

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