The Congress on Saturday released a list of 18 more Lok Sabha election candidates: nine from Uttar Pradesh, six from Haryana, and three from Madhya Pradesh.
The names from UP include Union minister Anupriya Patel’s mother Krishna Patel from Gonda and late Phulan Devi’s husband Ummed Singh Nishad from Ambedkar Nagar.
A cursory look at the social background of the candidates indicate that they are being fielded to cut into the BJP vote bank. For instance, the party has fielded two candidates from the Kushwaha community and one each from the Nishad and Kurmi communities. Belonging to the non-Yadav OBC communities, they are all being fielded from seats where the BJP had made inroads in 2014.
While Shiv Kanya Kushwaha was fielded from Chandauli, Ajit Pratap Kushwaha will be the candidate from Ghazipur. The former is the wife of BSP chief Mayawati’s one-time aide Babu Singh Kushwaha. Both seats have sizeable non-Yadav Kushwaha voters.
Former MP Rama Kant Yadav, who had given a tough contest to Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav in 2014 in Azamgarh, has been fielded from Bhadohi seat near Varanasi. The BJP had denied him a ticket from Azamgarh this time. Interestingly, he was not fielded from Azamgarh as SP chief Akhilesh Yadav is contesting there.
Former Congress MP from Varanasi Rajesh Mishra has been fielded from Salempur, triggering speculation on whether the Congress would field a big name against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi. While there was speculation that Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra could contest from Varanasi, party’s communication department head Randeep Surjewala said there is “no such decision as of now”.
The Gonda seat has a sizeable Kurmi presence. Congress candidate Beni Prasad Verma, hailing from the Kurmi community, had won the seat in 2009. Verma, however, has switched to the SP. The party has fielded Raj Kishore Singh from neighbouring Basti seat. Kishore was a Cabinet minister in the Akhilesh government. He joined the Congress recently after it became clear that he would not get a ticket from the SP as the seat went to the BSP as part of the seat-sharing arrangement.
In Madhya Pradesh, setting at rest speculation over Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia’s wife Priyadarshini’s candidature, the party on Saturday named its candidate for Gwalior seat. Ashok Singh, who has lost the last few elections from this seat, will be the Congress candidate from Gwalior and take on mayor and BJP candidate Vivek Shejwalkar.
Dewashish Jarariya was fielded from Bhind (SC) seat. The young politician had switched from the BSP to the Congress ahead of the Assembly elections. Dinesh Girwal will be Congress candidate from Dhar (ST) seat.
For Haryana, the names were on expected lines, with Ashok Tanwar fielded from Sirsa and Rajya Sabha MP Kumari Selja from Ambala, both reserved constituencies. Three-time Rohtak MP Deepender Singh Hooda will be seeking a fourth term from the same constituency. From Faridabad, the MLA from Tigaon Assembly constituency in Faridabad will be contesting for Lok Sabha. Capt. Ajay Singh Yadav will be contesting from Gurgaon.