Pawan Bansal, Nagma in Congress' second list

Pawan Bansal, Nagma in Congress' second list

Pawan Bansal, Nagma in Congress' second list

The Congress Thursday renominated former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal from Chandigarh dismissing allegations of "taint" against him by the opposition as it released a second list of 71 names including actor Nagma from Meerut.

The list also includes former union minister Subodh Kant Sahai from Ranchi and Youth Congress chief Rajeev Satav from Hingoli (Maharashtra), who has worked closely with party vice president Rahul Gandhi.

Actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar, the sitting MP from Uttar Pradesh's Firozabad, has now been fielded from the state's Ghaziabad, held by Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh, who is now reportedly keen to shift to Lucknow. From Lucknow, the party has fielded Rita Bahuguna Joshi, the ex-state unit chief.

The 71 names announced Thursday include four replacements from the list announced March 8.

The Congress is yet to declare its candidates for Delhi which will go the polls April 10. The party had received a heavy drubbing in Delhi in the last assembly polls and is weighing various options. It had won all seven Lok Sabha seats in 2009.

There was speculation that Bansal could be denied a ticket in the wake of corruption charges having been framed against his nephew Vijay Singla and nine other accused in a railway bribery case.

It was also not certain whether Sahai would be fielded after his name having figured in the controversial coal block allocations for having written a letter to the prime minister seeking his intervention for allocation of two coal blocks to a company of which his brother was an honrary director. Sahai, who had resigned as a union minister in October 2012, had refuted all charges against him.

The Congress defended decision to give ticket to Bansal.

"What is a taint in a person who is not accused," party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, adding Bansal had resigned pending an inquiry concerning his ministry in keeping with "the highest standards of propriety."

The list declared Thursday includes union ministers M. Veerapa Moily (Chikkballapur-Karnataka), Shashi Tharoor (Thiruvananthapuram), K. V. Thomas (Ernakulam-Kerala) and V. Narayanasamy (Puducherry).

Other prominent candidates in the list include Pratibha Singh, wife of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh from Mandi, P.C. Chacko (Chalakudy-Kerala) and Begum Noor Bano (Moradabad-Uttar Pradesh). The last is currently held by cricketer-turned-politician Mohammed Azharuddin.

A Congress release said that Nagma has replaced Dayanand Gupta in Meerut as the party's nominee. It said that Satyanarayan Sharma has replaced Chayya Verma in Raipur and Aarti Singh has replaced Maneka Singh in Raigarh (both Chhattisgarh) and Daryl William Cheran Momin has replaced D.M. Sangma in Tura in Meghalaya.

The list includes three from Himachal Pradesh, 10 from Karnataka, 15 from Kerala, three from Madhya Pradesh, seven from Maharashtra, six from Odisha, two each from Rajasthan, Meghalaya,  Assam, Chhattisgarh, 13 from Uttar Pradesh and one each in Gujarat, Jharkhand, Nagaland,  Chandigarh, Lakshadweep and Puducherry. Congress had declared its first list of candidates 194 candidates March 8.