Congress Releases Another Poll List, No Decision On Amethi, Raebareli

The names of four candidates for the Lok Sabha elections have been announced in the latest list.

The party has pitted its Mumbai unit's vice president against Union Minister Piyush Goyal.

New Delhi:

With just three days to go for the last day of filing nominations for the seats, the Congress has kept the suspense going for the prestigious Amethi and Raebareli constituencies, not naming candidates for them in the latest list of names for the Lok Sabha polls released on Tuesday. 

Four candidates have been named in the fresh list and they include actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar from the Gurgaon constituency and former Union Minister Anand Sharma from the Kangra constituency in Himachal Pradesh. 

Mr Babbar will contest against BJP veteran and Union Minister Rao Inderjit Singh. With the announcement of his candidature, the Congress has revealed the names of all nine candidates it is fielding from Haryana, where the tenth Lok Sabha seat is being contested by its INDIA ally, the Aam Aadmi Party

Mr Sharma, who is making his Lok Sabha election debut, is up against the BJP's Rajeev Bhardwaj, a former chairman of the Kangra Central Cooperative (KCC) Bank.

Former MLA Satpal Raizada has been fielded from the Hamirpur constituency in Himachal Pradesh, which is likely to be an uphill battle because he will be facing off against Union Minister Anurag Thakur, who has won from there four times. The seat was also held by Mr Thakur's father and former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal. 

In Maharashtra, where the battle is between the Congress-NCP (Sharad Pawar Faction)-Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray faction) and the BJP-NCP (Ajit Pawar faction)-Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde faction), the party has pitted Bhushan Patil, the vice president of its Mumbai unit, against Lok Sabha election debutant and Union Minister Piyush Goyal.

Even with the names declared for some high-profile constituencies, the list was noteworthy more for what was left out. The buzz had been building about the Congress finally pulling the trigger and deciding on the names for Raebareli and Amethi. The Amethi unit of the Congress even staged a protest earlier on Tuesday demanding that a candidate be declared and that the person be from the "Gandhi parivar (family)", but the decision seems to have been put off for now. 

The last date for filing nominations for both the seats, which will go to the polls on May 20, is Friday, May 3. 

Speculation has been rife that the party would field its former president Rahul Gandhi - who lost the family bastion in a shock defeat to the BJP's Smriti Irani in 2019 - from Amethi again and he will contest both from there and Kerala's Wayanad like he did in the last Lok Sabha elections.

For Raebareli, which was held by Sonia Gandhi since 2004, the name doing the rounds has been of Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, whose electoral debut is expected to enthuse party workers. The move, if it happens, would be strategic also because Raebareli was the only seat - out of Uttar Pradesh's 80 - that the Congress had won in 2019.