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BJP releases first list of 21 candidates for Chhattisgarh polls;Vijay Baghel fielded from Chief Minister’s constituency

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party which is eyeing a comeback in Chhattisgarh in the coming assembly elections on Thursday released its first list of candidates including Durg MP Vijay Baghel for 21 seats where it had faced defeat last time. There are 16 fresh faces in the list, most of them representatives of district panchayat bodies, while five candidates are former MLAs. The list contains five women.

The election schedule for the 90-member Chhattisgarh assembly is yet to be announced.

Of the 21 seats for which nominees were announced by the BJP, ten are reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST) and one for Scheduled Castes (SC). All these 21 seats are currently held by the Congress.

Durg MP Vijay Baghel will contest from Patan, the assembly constituency of Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel.

Vijay Baghel had defeated Bhupesh Baghel in 2008 assembly elections from the same seat. But in 2013 he lost to Bhupesh Baghel. Vijay Baghel also heads the 31-member ‘Ghoshna Patra Samiti’ or poll manifesto committee of the BJP for the coming polls.

Former Chhattisgarh minister Ramvihcar Netam would contest from Ramanujganj (ST) seat where he had suffered defeat in 2013 against incumbent Congress MLA Brihaspat Singh. Both Vijay Baghel and Netam did not contest the 2018 assembly elections.

BJP spokesperson Devlal Halwa Thakur would contest from Daundi Lohara (ST) seat while former MLAs Sanjeev Shah, Shravan Markam and Lakhanlal Dewangan would contest from Mohla-Manpur (ST), Sihawa (ST) and Korba seats, respectively.

Rajnandgaon Zila Panchayat president Geeta Ghasi Sahu has been fielded from Khujji seat while Rajnandgaon Zila Panchayat vice president Vikrant Singh, a nephew of senior BJP leader and former chief minister Raman Singh, will contest from Khairagarh seat.

Vice president of Bastar Zila panchayat Maniram Kashyap has been fielded from Bastar-ST seat, member of Surajpur Zila panchayat Laxmi Rajwade from Bhatgaon seat, member of Mahasamund Zila Panchayat Alka Chandrakar from Khallari seat and member of Gariaband Zila Panchayat Rohit Sahu from Rajim seat.

Sarla Kosaria, vice president of the BJP’s state unit and former president of Mahasamund Zila Panchayat, has been nominated from Saraipali-SC seat; Shakuntala Singh Porthe, president of BJP’s Balrampur district women wing from Pratappur-ST seat; Asharam Netam, president of BJP’s Kanker district ST wing and former Janpad Panchayat member, from Kanker-ST seat. The other candidates in the list are Bhulan Singh Maravi (from Premnagar seat), Prabhoj Minj (Lundra-ST), Mahesh Sahu (Kharsia), Harishchandra Rathiya (Dharamjaigarh- ST), Pranav Kumar Parpachhi (Marwahi- ST) and Indrakumar Sahu (Abhanpur).

Rohit Sahu, nominated from Rajim, had contested the previous 2018 assembly elections from the same segment on Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) ticket. He joined the BJP more than a year ago.

Senior journalist and political analyst R Krishna Das said the BJP seemed to have declared candidates in the first list for the seats where there were not much differences within the party over the nominees.

While in 2018 the saffron party had drawn blank in all 21 seats, even in 2013 (when it retained power in the state) it had suffered defeat in 16 of these seats, he noted.

Declaration of candidates so early on will benefit the candidates who will have sufficient time for preparations, he added.

In most seats, representative of zila panchayats have been fielded, which shows that the BJP is bringing in second-rung leaders to replace old faces, Das said. He also noted that four candidates in the list belong to the Sahu’ community and two to the Kurmi community. These two communities are dominant among Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the state, Das pointed out.

In the 2018 assembly poll, 19 of these 21 seats were won by Congress and JCC (J) bagged two others -Marwahi and Khairagarh. Former chief minister Ajit Jogi and Devvrat Singh had won Marwahi and Khairagarh, respectively.

However, after the deaths of Jogi and Singh, the two seats were captured by ruling Congress in bypolls.

A BJP leader said that the party is not very strong in these 21 seats, hence the candidates were announced early so that they get ample time to go to the people and connect with them. In 2018, Congress had won 68 of total 90 seats, while the BJP finished a distant second with 15. The JCC (J) bagged five and its ally, BSP, two seats. The Congress currently has 71 MLAs. Congratulating the selected candidates, state BJP chief Arun Sao said his party has sounded the poll bugle with the list and taken a step towards victory. State Congress president Deepak Baij, on his part, said all these 21 candidates will lose their deposits.

Source: Press Trust of India

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