Congress first list out: Rahul Gandhi to contest from Wayanad, suspense over Amethi lingers

17 leaders among the list of 39 candidates announced are sitting MPs

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi speaks at a public meeting during the 'Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra', in Aurangabad district | PTI

The suspense over former Congress president Rahul Gandhi's candidature from Wayanad for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections ended on Friday with the party declaring its first list of candidates for the Parliamentary polls.

The Congress announced its first list comprising 39 candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, 17 of whom are sitting MPs. There had been speculation over Gandhi's candidature from Wayanad in the wake of the Left parties suggesting that he should not contest from the seat since it would give out a wrong message to the people about the INDIA alliance's fight against the RSS-BJP. The Left Front has put up Annie Raja, a senior leader of the CPI, as its candidate for the seat.

Meanwhile, there is a growing buzz about Gandhi contesting from Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, too in the coming Lok Sabha polls. Party leaders talk about Gandhi having received an enthusiastic welcome from the people of Amethi, which has been a Gandhi family stronghold, when his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra passed through the constituency recently. The Congress leader had contested from Amethi and Wayanad in the 2019 elections, losing to BJP's Smriti Irani from the UP seat.

The list comprises 16 seats in Kerala, with K.C. Venugopal, AICC general secretary (Organisation), fielded from Alappuzha, which was the lone seat the Congress had lost in the state in the previous Lok Sabha elections. The Kerala unit leaders were assertive in their demand that Venugopal should return to the constituency and reclaim it. Vadakara MP K. Muralidharan has been shifted to Thrissur, replacing T.N. Prathapan, the only sitting MP to be dropped from the Kerala list. Prathapan is learnt to be keen to return to state politics. Shafi Parambil is the party's candidate from Vadakara. Shashi Tharoor will yet again contest from Thiruvananthapuram.

Former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has been fielded from Rajnandgaon seat in his home state and his party colleague from the state Tamradhwaj Sahu will contest from Mahasamund. The candidatures of Baghel and Sahu are an indication that the Congress would want senior leaders to enter the fray in what the party believes is a do-or-die battle.

There is, meanwhile, speculation over whether Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge will contest from Gulbarga in Karnataka. The buzz gains significance in the backdrop of the thinking in the party that senior leaders should contest in the Lok Sabha elections to maximise the number of seats it can win.

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