2024 Lok Sabha polls | Congress releases first list of 39 candidates; Rahul Gandhi to contest from Wayanad

Former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel to contest from Rajnandgaon, party general secretary K.C. Venugopal from Alappuzha and Shashi Tharroor from Thiruvananthapuram.

March 08, 2024 07:47 pm | Updated March 09, 2024 06:56 am IST - New Delhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi greets supporters during his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Halol, Gujarat on March 8, 2024.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi greets supporters during his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Halol, Gujarat on March 8, 2024. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will seek a re-election from Wayanad Lok Sabha seat in Kerala, the party announced on March 8. His name was part of the party’s first list of 39 Lok Sabha candidates.

Other prominent names in the first list are former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, to contest from Rajnandgaon; party general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal, being fielded from Kerala’s Alappuzha; Congress Working Committee member and sitting MP Shashi Tharoor from Thiruvananthapuram; Kodikunnil Suresh from Mavelikkara; D.K. Suresh from Bangalore Rural; Tamradhwaj Sahu from Mahasamund and Jyotsna Mahant from Korba, both in Chhattisgarh.

Of the 39 candidates, 24 belonged to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and minorities, Mr. Venugopal said while addressing a press conference with party treasurer Ajay Maken.

He added that that 12 candidates were below 50, eight were between 50 and 60, while 19 were above 61. As many as six State unit chiefs have been accommodated in the first list.

“Our target is to win maximum seats and remove this fascist government,” Mr. Venugopal said.

On March 7, the party’s central election committee (CEC) discussed names for Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Sikkim, Tripura, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya and Lakshwadeep.

In Kerala, the party retained most of the sitting MPs and only Thrissur MP T.N. Prathapan was dropped. In his place, senior leader K. Muraleedharan has been fielded. Mr. Muraleedharan is the incumbent MP from Vadakara, where Palakkad MLA Shafi Parambil has been fielded.

Mr. Vengopal, who had not contested from his seat of Alappuzha in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, returned to the electoral fray. Alappuzha is the only seat that the Left Democratic Front had won during the previous Lok Sabha polls.

The next meeting of the party’s top election body is on March 11 during which Hindi heartland States including Uttar Pradesh could be taken up for discussion. There is intense speculation that Mr. Gandhi could contest a second seat from Amethi, while his sister Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra, could make her electoral debut from Rae Bareli, a seat that will fall vacant after their mother, Sonia Gandhi, announced that she wouldn’t contest the Lok Sabha polls.

Downplaying these rumours, Mr. Venugopal said the party would announce when candidates are finalised.

“We are in election mode and on an aggressive path of campaigning with Rahul Gandhi undertaking the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra which is in Gujarat,” he said.

The Nyay Yatra will end on March 17 in Mumbai with a mammoth rally and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge will be writing to all INDIA bloc partners to attend the rally, he added.

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