Singed in 2014, Congress Sticks to the 'Tried and Tested' in First List of 11 Candidates
Most of these names are of leaders who had won the Lok Sabha polls in 2009, when the Congress had won 22 seats from the state.
File photo of Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi. (PTI)
Lucknow: As Congress ups the stakes in most crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, its list of first 11 candidates and their constituencies for the Lok Sabha polls comes as no major surprise. All these seats are well part of its core 'Mission 30' in UP.
Choice of candidates for these constituencies too springs no major surprise. All of the 11, including party president Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, perfectly fit in the 'tried and tested' label.
Most of these names comprise leaders who had won the Lok Sabha polls in 2009, when the Congress had won 22 seats from the state.
The speculation, which has however been put to rest, is about Priyanka's possible entry into electoral fray from Raebareli. With Sonia Gandhi's candidature being repeated, it's almost certain now that Priyanka will be focusing entirely on organisation, being away from contesting herself.
While almost as expected, Rahul Gandhi will be re-contesting from his constituency of Amethi. Congress's young Brahmin face Jitin Prasad will try his luck once again from Dhaurara. He had won the seat in 2009 but lost in 2014.
Similarly RPN Singh, Anu Tandon, Salman Khurshid and Nirmal Khatri will contest from Kushinagar, Unnao, Farrukhabad and Faizabad respectively. They had also won the seats in 2009 but lost in 2014.
In West UP, the party has declared two big names — Imran Masood from Saharanpur and Saleem Shervani from Badaun. While Sherani had been in Parliament in the past, Masood had been a runner-up on Saharanpur seat in 2014.
Masood had polled four lakh plus votes, losing to BJP by a margin of around 70,000. Badaun, though had not been a comfortable seat for Congress, is seen as a direct dare to Samajwadi Party. The seat is represented in Lok Sabha by SP president Akhilesh Yadav's cousin Dharmendra Yadav.
However, two Muslims on the only two seats from west UP declared in the first list, can also be an attempt to send minorities a message in this sensitive region. A message, which if goes down as intended, should be a cause of concern for the SP-BSP-RLD alliance.
Sources say Bhim Army can also be a crucial factor in giving leverage to the Congress in this region. Though, on the face of it Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar talks of standing by with BSP chief Mayawati, it's Imran Masood who is seen as his biggest political ally in the region.
In Bundelkhand region, the party has declared Raja Ram Pal a candidate from Akbarpur and Brij lal Khabri has been given a ticket from Jalaun reserved seat. On both these seats, despite the Modi wave in 2014, Congress polled around a lakh vote.
Now with sort of emphasis which Congress President Rahul Gandhi had been laying on farmers' plight and promising large scale farm loan waver, the party hopes to regain ground in Bundelkhand as it had done in 2009 after UPA-1's populist farm loan waiver scheme.
All these 11 seats are part of those 'Mission 30' seats where party had polled respectable vote percentage even in 2014 — considered to be its worst ever performance in the state. The votes on these seats were from around one lakh to maximum of four lakh in Saharanpur.
Now, Amidst remote possibility of any alliance being worked out SP-BSP, the party is expected to further declare its candidates on remaining seats out it's core list of 30. This includes Kanpur, Lucknow, Lakhimpur, Barabanki, Bahraich, Gonda, Gaziabad, Rampur, Aonla, Bareilli, Pratapgarh, Jhansi, Hamirpur among others.
Sources say that apart from these 30 priority seats, Congress intends to contest around 60-65 seats in the state, leaving the rest for its smaller allies.
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