The Congress on Wednesday released its second list of 21 candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, fielding party's Uttar Pradesh unit chief Raj Babbar from Moradabad, former Union minister Sriprakash Jaiswal from Kanpur, ex-Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde from Solapur and Priya Dutt from Mumbai North-Central. The second list has named 16 candidates from Uttar Pradesh and five from Maharashtra.
Other significant names include Kisan Congress chief Nana Patole from Nagpur, former Union minister Milind Deora from Mumbai South, Sanjay Singh from Sultanpur and Savitri Phule, who joined the party after quitting BJP just days earlier, from Bahraich (SC). There could be a contest between Patole and Nitin Gadkari in Nagpur, from where the Union minister is the sitting MP.
With this, the Congress has declared 27 candidates from the electorally-crucial Uttar Pradesh. Significantly, the party has fielded Phule from Bahraich, Rakesh Sachan from Fatehpur, Kaisar Jahan from Sitapurm, and Omwati Devi Jatav from Nagina, just days after they joined the Congress.
The party has also former UP minister Zafar Ali Naqvi from Kheri and former UP chief minister Kamlapati Tripathi's grandson Lalitesh Pati Tripathi from Mirzapur. Others from UP named in the list are -- Manjari Rahi from Misrikh (SC), Ramashankar Bhargava from Mohanlalganj (SC), Ratna Singh from Pratapgarh, Parvez Khan from Sant Kabir Nagar, Kush Saurabh from Basgaon (SC), Pankaj Mohan Sonkar from Lalganj (SC), and Bhagwati Prasad Choudhary from Robertsganj (SC).
Actor-turned politician Raj Babbar, who had lost from Ghaziabad in the last Lok Sabha elections, will be contesting from Moradabad for the first time. Interestingly, Priya Dutt, a former MP, had earlier announced that she will not contest the polls and had written to Gandhi, who reportedly asked her to fight the election.
Namdev Dalluji Usendi will contest from Gadchirolli-Chimur, Maharashtra. The party had released its first list of 15 candidates on March 7 in which it had announced that UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi will contest from Raebareli and party president Rahul Gandhi will fight the polls from Amethi.
Former Union ministers Salman Khurshid, Jitin Prasad and R P N Singh were also named in the first list from their traditional seats of Farrukhabad, Dhaurahra and Kushi Nagar respectively. With 27 seats announced in Uttar Pradesh by the Congress, political observers said the party had sent out a clear message that it will adopt an aggressive approach in the state. Rahul Gandhi has also said that the party will play on the front foot in the state.
Responding to a question on alliance in UP, Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the Congress respects the decision of the SP and BSP. "We respect the leadership of both SP and BSP and Congress president has also said that. But, we want to create a space for Congress's ideology in the biggest of the states and that's why we have decided to fight all seats," he said.