MP Congress Names 229 Candidates, Eyes 150 Seats in Assembly Polls
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI
Bhopal: The Madhya Pradesh Congress has announced the names of 229 candidates for 230 seats ahead of the November 17 Assembly election. The party released the latest list of 85 candidates late Thursday night while the first list of 144 candidates was out on October 15.
The Congress has only withheld the name of the candidate for Betul district’s Amla seat (reserved) as uncertainty looms over the candidacy of Nisha Bangre, a civil servant hailing from Amla who wanted to contest. She resigned as SDM Chhatarpur in July but the BJP government did not accept her resignation, forcing her to approach the High Court (HC).
Bangre had earlier approached the Supreme Court (SC) for permission to contest the polls, but the apex court rejected her plea on Wednesday and asked her to approach the HC, where the matter is pending.
कांग्रेस ने एमपी में चुनाव के मद्देनजर 88 उम्मीदवारों की दूसरी लिस्ट ज़ारी की।
पिछली 144 उम्मीदवारों की लिस्ट में 3 सीटों के उम्मीदवार बदले गए:
230 में से 229 सीटों पर उम्मीदवार घोषित।
चुकी कांग्रेस अमला सीट (130) से… pic.twitter.com/t1THhOEbHo
— काश/if Kakvi (@KashifKakvi) October 19, 2023
On October 17, the Congress released its manifesto, the 106-page Vachan Patra, with 59 promises at Bhopal’s Ravindra Bhawan. From buying cow manure at Rs 2/kg, farm loan waiver and health insurance cover up to Rs 25 lakh to a paddy MSP of Rs 2,500/quintal, wheat at Rs 2600/quintal and a state IPL team, the Congress has promised ‘moon to the voters in the manifesto.
Making alteration in the first list, the Congress party replaced candidates on three Assembly seats of Datia, Picchore and Gotegaon after the stiff opposition.
In Datia, the party planned to take on home minister Narottam Mishra, infamous for his controversial statements, by fielding Avdesh Nayak, an RSS man who joined the party in June, after declining former MLA Rajendra Bharti’s candidacy.
However, in the second list, Nayak was replaced with Bharti, who is the best chance for the Congress to defeat Mishra, according to poll observers. He lost the 2018 Assembly polls to Mishra with 2,600 votes and has been fighting the paid news case against the minister in the SC.
According to Congress sources, after Mishra became home minister, as many as 13 FIRs were lodged against Bharti and his family members to weaken his position and several of his businesses were forcefully shut down.
In another major change, the party has replaced the candidate for the Gotegaon (reserved) seat of Narsinghpur district. Former Assembly Speaker NP Prajapati is the MLA from the seat, but the party dropped his name in the first list giving ticket to Shekhar Choudhary.
While in the Picchore seat of Shivpuri district, the Congress replaced Shailendra Singh with Arvind Singh Lodhi.
In the official communique shared by the party, out of 230, 99 candidates are below 50 years. As many as 30 candidates are women, which is around 13% of the total seats. The party has fielded 48 ST, 34 SC and two Muslim (both from Bhopal) candidates.
Madhya Pradesh has 5.52 crore voters—2.85 crore men, 2.67 crore women and 1,336 transgenders. According to the Election Commission, there are 945 women voters for every 1,000 men as against 917 women in 2018. Results will be announced on December 3.
The Congress has given tickets to nine BJP defectors and five others from the BSP, SP and other parties. The party has also dropped 11 sitting MLAs. In two seats, Bhopal North and Jhabua, the incumbents’ sons have been given tickets.
From the Gwalior seat, considered the bastion of Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, the Congress has fielded Sunil Sharma, who lost against sitting MLA and minister Pradhuman Singh Tomar, a known Scindia loyalist. Tomar had switched over to the BJP along with Scindia after the last Assembly polls.
Abhay Mishra, who switched to the BJP a month ago after the party promised a ticket from Semaria, returned to the Congress when the BJP denied. After he ran from pillar to post in Delhi, the Congress gave him ticket.
The Congress, nonetheless, is facing backlash on more than a dozen seats. “I have received 4,000 applications and everyone is claiming that they can’t be trounced. Hence, tickets were distributed based on the surveys and winnability of the candidates,” state Congress chief and former chief minister (CM) Kamal Nath said after announced the first list.
As opposed to the Congress, the BJP released a list of 136 candidates and the names for the remaining 94 seats would be announced this week.
ARTIST Vs ARTIST
The Congress has pitted Vikram Mastal, a 40-year-old actor who played Hanuman in the 2008 Ramayan reboot, from Budhni against four-time CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Mastal was born in Sehore district’s Itarsi village to martial artist Vinod Sharma, who was also in the Congress. His elder brother Arjun Sharma is also with the Congress. But taking on the CM is easier said than done as Chouhan has been winning Budhni since 2006. In 2018, Chouhan trounced former Union minister and former state Congress president Arun Yadav with more than 58,000 votes.
A day after announcing the names, Nath told the media in Bhopal that Budhni would witness an “artist versus artist” fight. “I think there should be a debate between both of them. Then we will understand who is the bigger artist.”
8 KEY STATES WHERE BJP HAS FIELDED HEAVYWEIGHTS
The BJP has fielded eight heavyweight leaders, including three Union Ministers, four MPs and one general secretary. To take on heavyweights, the Congress has fielded sitting MLAs.
From Indore-1, where the BJP has fielded its general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, the Congress has pitted sitting MLA Sanjay Shukla, the second richest MLA.
In Dimni, the Congress has fielded sitting MLA Ravish Singh Tomar, who will contest against Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar. Tomar was given ticket after dropping the name of Scindia loyalist Giriraj Dandotia.
Against Union minister Faggan Singh Kulaste, the Congress has fielded Chain Singh Warkade in Niwas. The BJP had lost the seat in 2018 with more than 28,000 votes. In Narsinghpur, the home seat of Union minister Prahlad Patel, the Congress has fielded Lakhan Singh Patel.
The Congress has given ticket to two-time sitting MLA Tarun Bhanut in Jabalpur Paschim against MP Rakesh Singh. Congress district president Gyan Singh has been pitted against parliamentarian Riti Pathak. In Gadarwada, the Congress has given ticket to woman candidate Suneeta Patel against BJP’s sitting MP Uday Pratap Singh. While in Satna, where the BJP has fielded MP Ganesh Singh, the grand old party has given ticket to sitting MLA Sidharth Kushwaha.
With 29 Lok Sabha and 11 Rajya Sabha seats, the Congress hopes to return to power in Madhya Pradesh. The party has set a target of winning 150 seats. The Congress, which came to power after 15 years of BJP rule in 2018, lost power to the BJP in March 2020 after 22 legislators defected to BJP with Scindia.
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