CEC clears names of Lal Singh, Bhalla for Udhampur, Jammu LS seats

Cong panel releases 4th list of 45 candidates

Gopal Sharma

JAMMU, Mar 23: The Central Election Committee of Congress Party tonight cleared the names of former Member Parliament Ch Lal Singh for Udhampur and JKPCC working president, Raman Bhalla for Jammu Lok Sabha seat, while releasing the fourth list of 45 candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Lal Singh, a two time MP and former Minister, who rejoined Congress party hardly three days ago in Delhi, has been fielded by the Congress party from Kathua-Udhampur-Doda Parliamentary Constituency, against a strong BJP candidate and sitting MP & Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh. Ghulam Nabi Azad’s party (DPAP) candidate and former Minister, Ghulam Mohd Saroori is also contesting from Udhampur–Doda seat.
Singh, who had won the Udhampur Parliamentary seat twice on a Congress ticket in 2004 and 2009, switched from the Congress to the BJP in 2014. He remained Health and Forest Minister in the BJP-PDP Government. After the BJP pulled out of the alliance in 2018, he remained in the party for few months and later resigned from the party and framed his own party – Dogra Swabhiman Sangthan Party. He became MLA first time from Basohli Constituency of Kathua district in 1996.
Raman Bhalla, a former Housing and Revenue Minister, considered to be a strong Congress candidate, has been fielded by the Party from Jammu Parliamentary Constituency. Party sources said that during CEC meeting in Delhi the name of former Dy Chief Minister Tara Chand, a strong Scheduled Caste candidate from Jammu region was also discussed. But Jammu being the open Lok Sabha seat, the name of Raman Bhalla was considered.
Bhalla, who had contested from Jammu-Poonch Lok Sabha seat during 2019 elections was defeated by the BJP candidate, Jugal Kishore Sharma. Kishore is again contesting against Raman Bhalla who is alliance candidate of INDIA block.
In its 4th list, the Congress declared candidates for two seats in Jammu and Kashmir, 11 from Uttar Pradesh, 12 from Madhya Pradesh, seven from Tamil Nadu, three from Rajasthan, four from Maharashtra, two from Manipur, one each from West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Assam and UT of Andaman and Nicobar. The Nagaur seat in Rajasthan was left for RLP.
The Congress fielded its veteran leader Digvijaya Singh from Madhya Pradesh’s Rajgarh. In Tamil Nadu, the party has fielded Karti Chidambaram from Sivaganga, Manickam Tagore from Virudhnagar and S Jothimani from Karur.
For Uttar Pradesh, where the party is in alliance with the Samajwadi Party and is contesting on 17 seats, the Congress announced candidates for nine seats. These include Rai from Varanasi, Danish Ali from Amroha, Imran Masood from Saharanpur and Alok Mishra from Kanpur.
The Congress had already announced 139 candidates in three lists for the seven-phase Lok Sabha polls beginning April 19.
The Congress’ Central Election Committee (CCEC) had met on Thursday to finalise Lok Sabha election candidates for Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
This is the first time that the panel, chaired by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, took up discussions on the candidates for the politically crucial Uttar Pradesh.
There is speculation that Rahul Gandhi may also contest from Amethi, besides his declared seat of Wayanad in Kerala, and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra from Raebareli, a seat which was previously held by Sonia Gandhi. Both the seats in UP are considered bastions of the Gandhi family and the local units of the Congress have demanded that the two scions of the Gandhi family should contest from there.
The meeting of the CEC was attended by former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, party general secretary K C Venugopal and other members of the panel. However, Rahul Gandhi, who is also a member of the panel, was not present.

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