LS polls: Congress releases 4th list of candidates, fields Ajay Rai to take on Modi in Varanasi


PTI, Mar 24, 2024, 8:01 AM IST

Representative image (source: PTI)

New Delhi: The Congress on Saturday released its fourth list of 45 candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, fielding its Uttar Pradesh unit chief Ajay Rai from Varanasi to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

While the Congress fielded veteran leader Digvijaya Singh from Madhya Pradesh’s Rajgarh, it nominated newly-inducted leader Lal Singh from Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur to take on Union minister Jitendra Singh.

MLA Vikas Thakare will take on Union Minister Nitin Gadkari in Maharashtra’s Nagpur, according to the list.

In its fourth list, the party announced candidates for 12 seats of Madhya Pradesh, nine of Uttar Pradesh, seven of Tamil Nadu, four of Maharashtra, two each of Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir, and one each of West Bengal, Assam, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Mizoram and Chhattisgarh.

The Congress has left the Nagaur parliamentary constituency in Rajasthan for the Hanuman Beniwal-led Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP).

The tie-up with the RLP is significant as the Congress looks to boost its position in the desert state, where it lost the Assembly polls recently and had not won a single seat in 2019 Lok Sabha election.

The party is looking to expand its support base among the jats with the tie-up with Beniwal, who has a significant following among the community.

For Uttar Pradesh, where the Congress is in an alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP) and contesting 17 seats, it has announced candidates for nine seats. These include Rai from Varanasi, Danish Ali from Amroha, Imran Masood from Saharanpur and Alok Mishra from Kanpur.

The suspense over whether Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will contest the polls from Amethi and Raebareli respectively continued.

There is speculation that Rahul Gandhi may also contest the polls from Amethi, besides his declared seat of Wayanad in Kerala, and Priyanka Gandhi from Raebareli, a seat which was previously held by her mother, Sonia Gandhi.

This will be Rai’s third direct contest against Modi in the general election after 2014 and 2019. He had lost both times to the prime minister by big margins.

Amethi and Raebareli are considered bastions of the Gandhi family and the local units of the Congress have demanded that the two scions of the family contest the polls from there.

In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress has also fielded Ram Nath Sikarwar from Fatehpur Sikri, Pradeep Jain Aditya from Jhansi, Tanuj Punia from Barabanki (SC), Akhilesh Pratap Singh from Deoria and Sadan Prasad from Bansgaon (SC).

In Tamil Nadu, the party has renominated Karti Chidambaram from Sivaganga, Manickam Tagore from Virudhunagar, S Jothimani from Karur and Vijay Vasanth from Kanniyakumari, among others.

In Madhya Pradesh, the party has fielded Digvijaya Singh from Rajgarh, Kantilal Bhuria from Ratlam (ST), Akshay Bam from Indore and Arun Shrivastav from Bhopal, among others.

Singh had last contested the polls from Bhopal but lost to the BJP’s Pragya Thakur in 2019.

Among other significant nominations by the party, it has fielded Kawasi Lakhma from Bastar (ST), Raman Bhalla from Jammu, Angomcha Bimol Akoijam from Inner Manipur, Alfred Kanngam S Arthur from Outer Manipur (ST), Anil Chopra from Jaipur Rural, Bhajanlal Jatav from Karauli Dholpur, former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat’s son Virender Rawat from Haridwar and Piya Roy Chowdhury from Coochbehar (SC).

With this, the Congress has declared a total of 183 candidates for the seven-phase Lok Sabha polls starting April 19.

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