The Congress released on Thursday its first list of 15 candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha election. This adds to the build up to the world’s greatest electoral exercise.
The release of the first list comes a few days before the Election Commission announces the poll schedule.
These are the reasons why the first list of the Congress holds significance:
The Congress has become the first national political party to release names of candidates. This also sets to rest the speculations about the candidature and seats of Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi. They will contest from their traditional bastions of Amethi and Rae Bareli respectively.
This also puts to rest the conjecture that Sonia Gandhi will retire due to health reasons and her daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will contest from Rae Bareli.
However, suspense still remains whether Priyanka Vadra will contest the election.
The list has been released for only two states – UP and Gujarat. It shows the party’s importance for the two states.
UP is where two members of the Congress’s first family are contesting election.
Gujarat is the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.
UP is also a state which sends the maximum 80 out of 543 MPs to the Lok Sabha.
Moreover, PM Modi represents UP’s Varanasi in the Lok Sabha.
Hence, UP and Gujarat are the two main battlegrounds for the Congress.
Rahul Gandhi was declared Congress president in the midst of the December 2017 Gujarat assembly election.
It was the first state where the Congress witnessed the first impact of Rahul Gandhi’s frontal attack against Narendra Modi and the BJP. The BJP’s seat share reduced to 99 from 115 out of 182 seats.
Congress senior spokesperson Shakeel Ahmad said the Central Election Committee of the party met and declared the seats where there was only one candidate. “Screening and shortlisting will be done for the constituencies where there are more than one candidates before releasing the final list,” he said.
Meanwhile, the list also rakes up a controversy as the Congress has fielded controversial politician Imran Masood from Saharanpur.
In the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Imran Masood had threatened to chop PM Modi, who was then BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, into pieces. He was arrested and jailed.
The Congress has come under attack from the BJP for fielding Imran Masood.
BJP’s media department head and Rajya Sabha MP Anil Baluni told that not just Imran Masood, there was a long list of Congress leaders right from Rahul Gandhi to a local party leader who were abusive.
“This is their ideology – to use abusive language,” Anil Baluni said.
However, Shakeel Ahmad defended the Congress’s decision to field Imran Masood. He said, “The decision is not controversial at all. He is an extremely popular leader. He is popular among all sections of the society. He lost the 2014 Lok Sabha and 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections by a small margin.”