Ignoring opposition from a section against fielding tainted candidates, the Congress on Thursday re-nominated former union ministers Pawan Kumar Bansal and Subodh Kant Sahai in the second list of 71 Lok Sabha candidates.
Unions ministers M Veerappa Moily (Chikkballapur, Karnataka), Shashi Tharoor (Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala), KV Thomas (Ernakulam, Kerala) and V Narayanasamy (Puducherry) apart from film actor Nagma (Meerut, UP) are some other prominent names.
By giving tickets to seven more ministers on Thursday, the Congress now has 31 of them in the poll arena, so far. However, some ministers appear reluctant to fight the Lok Sabha battle that gets underway April 7. Union shipping minister GK Vasan became the first Congress leader to publicly opt out.
Finance minister P Chidambaram is inclined to make way for his son, Karti, who has been a member of the AICC, according to a source close to Chidambaram. No comment was available from the minister.
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Former union minister and ex-Tamil Nadu Congress chief KV Thangkabalu has decided not to contest. Begum Noor Bano replaces cricketer-turned-politician Mohammad Azharuddin in Moradabad, actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar has been shifted to Ghaziabad from Firozabad, former Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi will contest from the prestigious Lucknow constituency. She lost to BJP’s Lalji Tandon from the seat in 2009 elections.
The Congress, which is still to name six UP candidates, kept the suspense over Varanasi. The eastern UP seat has the BJP in a bind.
While some BJP leaders are in favour of PM candidate Narendra Modi entering the fray from the holy Hindu town where Murli Manohar Joshi is keen to seek a re-election from.
Kerala Congress leaders PC Chacko and KP Dhanapal have exchanged seats. Chacko moves to Chalakudy and Dhanapal to Thrissur.
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Youth Congress president Rajeev Satav (Hingoli, Maharashtra), Rizwan Arshad (Bangalore Central), T Siddique (Kasargod, Kerala), former union minister Sis Ram Ola’s daughter-in-law Rajbala Ola (Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan), veteran party leader Datta Meghe’s son Sagar Meghe from Wardha (Maharashtra) will all make their Lok Sabha poll debut this summer. More than 35% candidates on the list were young, party sources said. The Congress has so far named 261 candidates.
Media reports had suggested that former rail minister Bansal could be denied ticket after the CBI framed corruption charges against his nephew, Vijay Singla, in a railway bribery case that had forced him to quit. The CBI judge, however, cleared Bansal, paving way for his nomination from Chandigarh.
Information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari, who was reportedly eyeing Chandigarh, had urged the leadership not to give tickets to tainted leaders -- an apparent reference to Bansal, Suresh Kalmadi, facing corruption charges in Commonwealth Games scandal, and Ashok Chavan, who had to quit as Maharashtra CM in the wake of the Adarsh housing scam. The Congress maintained all along that Bansal was innocent.
Find the list here.
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On Thursday, Tewari dismissed as “completely unfounded” the speculation that he was reluctant to contest from Ludhiana, saying he had conveyed to the party his willingness to seek re-election from the Punjab seat.
On the other hand, Sahai, who was forced to resign as tourism minister in September 2012 following allegations that he had sought coal blocks for his relatives, will seek re-election from Ranchi.
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