Few surprises, five new faces in Congress’ first Maharashtra list

March 24th, 2009 - 10:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Mumbai, March 24 (IANS) In a list bereft of major surprises, the Congress has renominated seven of its MPs from Maharashtra, including two union ministers, and has five new faces in its first list of 17 candidates for the Lok Sabha polls.
The party has given ticket to state Industries Minister Narayan T. Rane’s son, Nilesh, from the newly-carved out Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg constituency in the Konkan.

It has also decided to nominate Bhaskarrao Khatgaonkar, brother-in-law of Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, from Nanded. The constituency is considered a traditional stronghold of the Chavan family. Khatgaonkar is the son-in-law of the late chief minister S.B. Chavan. Incidentally, Khatgaonkar had lost to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) D.B. Patil in the last Lok Sabha elections.

Though he had declined to contest the Lok Sabha polls this time, union minister A.R. Antulay has been nominated for the electoral battle from Raigad constituency, while his cabinet colleague Vilas Muttemwar will contest from Nagpur.

It has also nominated former BJP MP Haribhau Rathod from the Yavatmal-Washim constituency and former Rajya Sabha MP of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Datta Meghe from Wardha. Rathod’s claim to fame was his decision to stay away from the vote of confidence against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government last year.

Nilesh’s nomination, ostensibly due to the pressure exerted on the party by his powerful father, was expected. He will take on former union minister and senior Shiv Sena leader Suresh Prabhu.

Apart from Antulay and Muttemwar, other MPs renominated are: Manikrao Gavit (Nandurbar-reserved constituency) and Suresh Kalmadi from Pune.

Two people who had lost the last elections have also been fielded this time - Mukul Wasnik from Ramtek (reserved constituency) instead of Buldana from where he had unsuccessfully contested, and Naresh Pugliya from Chandrapur, where he had been trounced.

In Mumbai, Milind Deora (Mumbai South), Eknath Gaekwad (Mumbai South-Central) and Priya Dutt (Mumbai North-Central) find place in the list.

However, the party has not yet made up its mind on Mumbai North where Bollywood actor Govinda Ahuja emerged a giant-killer by defeating veteran BJP leader and former union minister Ram Naik in 2004.

It has also to name a candidate for the Mumbai North-West constituency which is being coveted by Govinda, actress Naghma and state Congress spokesman Sanjay Nirupam.

Similarly, the Congress has not announced candidates for Solapur (reserved), Aurangabad, Latur, Jalna, Palghar, Sangli and Shirdi, which fall within its share in the seat adjustments arrived with its ally NCP.

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