In first list for Chhattisgarh, five picks from BJP; two new candidates

Dipankar Ghose
Prime minister Narendra Modi with BJP president Amit shah for CEC meeting at BJP head office (File/ Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

In its first list for the state of Chhattisgarh, the BJP has stuck to its controversial decision of not repeating any sitting candidate in a state where they won 10 of 11 seats in 2014. However, even as the BJP had said it wanted to bring "new faces and vigour" as a justification for the move, in the five seats announced on Thursday evening, the list included two former MLA’s, and one former member of parliament.

Among the seats the BJP is yet to announce is Raipur, where the sitting MP is former Union Minister and eight time running MP Ramesh Bais.

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The highest profile leader to make a return in the list is Renuka Singh, who will fight from the ST reserved Surguja seat. Singh is two time MLA from Premnagar, the same seat where the Congress candidate Khelsai Singh is presently MLA from. Singh was also a minister in the first Raman Singh government for two years, before she was dropped in the first reshuffle in 2005.

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From the Janjgir Champa seat, there is to be a familiar battle of sorts with the BJP giving the ticket to Guharam Ajgale, former member of parliament from the Sarangarh seat. Ajgale had, in 2004, defeated Paras Ram Bhardwaj, six time member of parliament from Sarangarh, and former minister and Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee Chief. It is Paras Ram Bhardwaj’s son Ravi Bhardwaj who is now the Congress candidate from the SC reserved Janjgir Champa seat.

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The Bastar seat, which was held by Dinesh Kashyap, two time MP, and the son of the late Baliram Kashyap, credited with expanding the party in Bastar, has now been given to Baiduram Kashyap. He is a former MLA from Chitrakote, and is up against Deepak Baij from the Congress, the present Congress MLA from Chitrakote.

One of the two relative new faces in the mix are Gomti Sai and Mohan Mandavi. Sai, who has been picked instead of four time MP and Union Minister Vishnu Dev Sai from the Jashpur seat, is a member of the sila panchayat of Jashpur. Mohan Mandavi, considered close to the RSS, is the party’s candidate from the Kanker seat, replacing now BJP state president Vikram Usendi. Mandavi is a member of the Chhattisgarh PSC, and is also president of the Tulsi Manas Pratishthan, active in the Charama region of Kanker.