Winnability, winnability and winnability. That was the only criterion determining who will contest from where, not the media campaign about who was tainted or not, a senior Congress leader said on Thursday.
The Congress in its second list of 71 candidates has renominated former Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal from Chandigarh and former Minister Subodh Kant Sahay from Ranchi and Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s wife, Pratibha Singh, from Mandi -- all perceived to be “tainted”.
Bansal had to give up his Raliways portfolio after his nephew Vijay Singla was booked in the cash-for-post scam. Sahay quit the Cabinet in the coal block allocation scam.
Virbhadra and wife have been facing fire over allegations of a quid-pro-quo deal involving a small-time hydel power unit. On Wednesday, the Delhi High Court even heard a plea for a court-monitored CBI probe against Virbhadra, and charges were framed against Bansal’s nephew in the CBI special court on March 11.
“The Congress will not get cowed down by broad brush ill-informed campaign by a section of the media on who is tainted and who is not-we decide candidates on the winnability factor and not according to TV channel debates,” a senior party leader said, by way of explaining the candidates’ choice in the second list, also asserting that “none against whom charges have been framed in courts has been given tickets”.
It was also pointed out that “electoral politics is not run by perceptions and that is the reason why we never raised questions on Narendra Modi’s right to contest elections-our campaign against him is on moral grounds and his politics.”
Since finding winning candidates is the biggest headache for the party, sitting MPs and ministers have been fielded again as much as possible.
Thus Union minister Shashi Tharoor will be seeking re-election from Thiruvananthapuram and K V Thomas from Ernakulam. Minister of State PMO V Narayanasamy has been fielded from Puducherry and Union Minister M Veerappa Moily from Chikkballapur. In Odisha, senior Dalit leader Bhakta Charan Das has been renominated from Kalahandi.
But there are newcomers and some changes as well. In Uttar Pradesh, actor Nagma has been fielded from Meerut in place of Dayanand Gupta; actor-turned-politician Raj Babar has been shifted to Ghaziabad from Agra.
But former state Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi will be again trying her luck from Lucknow.
In Maharashtra too, some replacements can be seen. For instance, Sagar Meghe has been fielded from Wardha in place of his father Dutta Meghe. Devendra Patel gets to contest from Hoshangabad after Uday Pratap Singh, the earlier Congress candidate, switched over to the BJP last year.
Maharashtra minister Kalappa Avade has been fielded from Hathkangale in place of the NCP candidate.
In Chhattisgarh, Aarti Singh replaced Maneka Singh in Raigarh and in Raipur, Satyanarayan Sharma replaced Chhaya Verma. Daryl William Cherran Momin will replace D Zennith M Sangma in Tura, Meghalaya.
The party has announced only one Gujarat seat in the second list: Bhavnagar, to be contested by Pravin Rathod.
Hamdullah Sayeed has been renominated from Lakshadweep just like most of the seats in northeastern states and in Kerala, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh.
Congress had declared its first list of candidates 194 candidates March 8.