Putting an end to the suspense over its stand on one of its key MPs facing corruption charges, the Congress today denied the Pune ticket to sitting MP Suresh Kalmadi, an accused in the Commonwealth Games scam, replacing him with Maharashtra Youth Congress president Vishwajeet Kadam who is the son of state minister Patangrao Kadam. The party is also likely to deny a ticket to Ashok Chavan, the former Maharashtra chief minister who had to step down in the wake of the Adarsh scam, but his wife Ameeta could be fielded from Nanded.
The Congress, which released its third list of 58 today, is said to be looking for a “formidable” opponent to Narendra Modi in Varanasi. It is said to be exploring the option of fielding a Thakur or Brahmin leader from Varanasi. Anil Shastri, son of former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, is said to be in contention but Congress sources asserted that the party is yet to take a call on its candidate from there. Anil Shastri had been elected from Varanasi back in 1989.
The 58 named Tuesday included five sitting MPs from Delhi: Kapil Sibal, Sandeep Dikshit, Ajay Maken, Jai Prakash Agarwal and Krishna Tirath. The party remains undecided about giving tickets to South Delhi MP Ramesh Kumar and West Delhi MP Mahabal Mishra. AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh’s son-in-law Paranjayadityasinh Parmar has been given the ticket to Panchmahal.
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Former Bihar DGP Ashish Ranjan Sinha will contest Nalanda, Nitish Kumar’s stronghold. Mohd Azharuddin, who chose not to contest from his Moradabad constituency, has been given the ticket to Tonk-Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan, which is currently represented by union minister Namonarayan Meena. Former union minister and close Rahul Gandhi aide C P Joshi shifts from Bhilwara to Jaipur (Rural) that is at present represented by minister Lalchand Kataria. Rajasthan PCC chief Sachin Pilot will contest from his Ajmer constituency. Union minister Chandresh Kumari, who was said to be eager to shift to Himachal Pradesh, remains in Jodhpur.
Punjab PCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa will contest from Gurdaspur, while former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi, currently an MLA, has been fielded from Mahasamund. Ajay Singh (Rahul), son of late Arjun Singh, will contest from Satna in Madhya Pradesh. Chairman of the Congress campaign committee in Orissa Srikant Jena will contest from Balasore. Haryana PCC chief Ashok Tanwar will contest from Sirsa, and Rajkumar Valmiki from Ambala in place of Kumari Selja, recently elected to the Rajya Sabha.
The third list covers Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattishgarh, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The party has announced candidates for 318 of the 543 seats.