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Chhattisgarh: Korba, Rajnandgaon & Durg most sought after seats

By Rajesh Ahuja

New Delhi, Mar 15 (UNI) With the filing of nominations for Lok Sabha polls in Chhattisgarh starting next week, there is a lot of anticipation on the choice of candidates for the 11 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

While interest has been generated on the possible candidates for all 11 seats, the seats of Korba, Rajnandgaon and Durg have emerged as the seats for which there is tremendous anticipation over the choice of candidates.

Among the top contenders for the Congress ticket from the Korba seat is former collector and state Congress leader Rajpal Singh Tyagi. Also in the race for the candidature is Jyotsana Mahant, wife of Chhattisgarh assembly speaker Charan Das Mahant.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha election, Congress' Charan Das Mahant defeated BJP's Karuna Shukla, niece of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Mahant secured his win by a margin of 20,737 votes.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Mahant was defeated by BJP's Banshilal Mahto who won by a margin of just 4265 votes.

Though the Congress is yet to make a decision on candidates for the Lok Sabha, sources say that Rajpal Singh Tyagi seems a hot favourite for getting the party ticket from the seat, which is expected to witness former Chief Minister and Congress rebel Ajit Jogi in the fray as an independent candidate.

In the recent assembly elections, Tyagi had played an active role in the campaigning of the Congress in the district, which makes him a strong contender for the seat.

Party sources said Tyagi's close association with the Congress makes him a favourite from the seat.

His grandfather Mahavir Tyagi from Dehradun Uttarakhand was a close associate of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

The seat is expected to witness a three-cornered contest between the Congress, Ajit Jogi's Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC) and the BJP.

While Ajit Jogi has announced his decision to contest from the seat, BJP is likely to field Korba MLA Vijay Jaiswal.

Mr Jogi, who was elected from his traditional assembly constituency of Marwahi (ST) in Chhattisgarh in the 2018 polls, is planning to contest in Korba LS seat in the forthcoming elections.

“Mr Jogi has decided to shift to central politics by contesting the LS elections,” a spokesman of JCC, formed by Ajit Jogi said on Thursday.

Another much sought after seat in the Hindi heartland state is that of Rajnandgaon. In the race for the candidature from the Lok Sabha seat, which is the stronghold of the BJP are Bhalaram Sahu, Jitendra Mudaliar and Kamleshwar Verma.

Interestingly, Kamleshwar Verma had lost in the 2014 polls to Abhishek Singh -- son of former state CM Raman Singh.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Abhishek Singh was chosen to lead BJP into battle and he managed to defeat Congress' Kamleshwar Verma by more than 2.2 lakh votes.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections too, it was BJP that raced to the finish line with Madhusudan Yadav bringing down Congress' Devvrat Singh by over one lakh votes.

Durg is another seat for which there is a lot of anticipation.

In the race for the candidature for the Durg Lok Sabha seat are Jitendra Sahu, Rajesh Sahu and Pratima Chandarkar.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Congress' Tamradhwaj Sahu upstaged BJP dominance here by defeating sitting MP Saroj Pandey by a margin of 16,848 votes.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Pandey had managed to keep the BJP flag flying here by defeating Congress' Pradeep Choubey.

The constituency is considered a BJP stronghold.

BJP, besides the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, had a strong grip over this constituency with Tarachand Sahu leading the way in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004 elections before he was expelled two months before 2009 Lok Sabha election -- on charges of anti-party activities. He fought - and lost -- as an Independent.

The list of candidates for the state of Chhattisgarh, which is scheduled to vote in three phases, on April 11, is expected to be announced on March 17 or 18.

Talking to media persons in Raipur on Thursday, Punia said that the party has almost finalised the list of candidates for the state after a series of meetings held by party’s election and screening committee in New Delhi.

“The Congress will declare its list of Lok Sabha candidates in Chhattisgarh within a couple of days,” he said.

A discussions on the names of candidates was held with Congress president rahul Gandhi by AICC incharge for Chhattisgarh PL Punia and Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel.

After its landslide win in the recent assembly elections, the Congress is confident of winning all the eleven seats in the Lok Sabha polls.

Naxal-hit Bastar (ST) constituency will go to polls on April 11 while Kanker (ST), Rajnandgaon and Mahasamund seats will be held on April 18 in the second phase.

The remaining seven Lok Sabha seats -- Surguja (ST), Raigarh (ST), Janjgir-Champa (SC), Raipur, Durg, Korba and Bilaspur will witness polling on April 23.

The notification for April 11 polling will be issued on March 18, after which the filing of nominations will begin. The last date for filing nominations will be March 25 and their scrutiny will be completed on March 26, and contestants can withdraw their forms till March 28.


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