Congress is banking on a combination of new faces and old-timers to end its 15-year wait to rule in Chhattisgarh. Ensuring that representation is given to all sections of society and a large chunk to SC and ST candidates, the party has put out a third list for the 37 Assembly seats going to polls in the second and last phase of voting on November 20.
The grand old party also received a shot in the arm with its former leader and the first Chief Minister of State Ajit Jogi who has formed a different outfit and aligned with Mayawati's BSP, on Sunday said announced he will not target the Gandhi family. He claimed though he will fight the Congress tooth and nail in the upcoming State Assembly polls, he will not speak against the Gandhi family, with whom he shared warm relations during his long tenure in the grand old party. Jogi left the Congress in 2016.
Congress has renominated 15 sitting MLAs and fielded 11 candidates, who had lost in 2013, besides giving tickets to 11 fresh faces. No sitting MLA was denied ticket in the third list. However, only three women figure in it. With this, the Opposition party has so far announced 55 candidates in the BJP-ruled state, which has a 90-member House.
State Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel (Patan seat), Congress Legislative Party leader T S Singhdeo (Ambikapur), senior Congress leader Satyanarayan Sharma (Raipur Rural) and prominent tribal leader Amarjeet Bhagat (Sitapur) were among the sitting MLAs who were given tickets.
State Congress working president Shiv Kumar Dahariya, who had lost the previous election from Bilaigarh (SC) seat, has been fielded from Arang (SC) this time. Similarly, Guru Rudra Kumar, who had lost the 2013 election from Arang, has been given ticket from Ahiwara (SC).
Congress on Sunday also charged the Modi dispensation at the Centre and the Raman Singh Government in Chhattisgarh for failing to contain naxal violence, saying the Chief Minister has forfeited his right to continue in power.
He claimed that the various schemes launched by the previous UPA Government for naxal-affected and backward districts were discontinued by the present Government at the Centre just because they were implemented by a Congress-led dispensation.