Congress releases first list, repeats all 8 past winners

Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh and former city unit chief Subhash Chopra figure in the first list of 24 candidates for Assembly polls released by the party here on Thursday.

This, perhaps, is the first time in Delhi when the party has announced its partial line-up even before the notification of the polls. The idea, say party leaders, is to give the candidates a lot of time for campaign.

In the first list of the candidates for the polls expected in February, the party has repeated all its eight MLAs from the dissolved House and named 12 others who were runners-up in the 2013 election.

Arvinder Singh will again fight from Gandhi Nagar and Chopra will contest from Kalkaji. Former chief minister Sheila Dikshit has opted out of the next election. So her name does not figure in the first list.

The three-time chief minister’s former cabinet colleagues Harun Yusuf, Raj Kumar Chauhan, Narendra Nath and A K Walia, have been given the party nomination from Ballimaran, Mangolpuri, Shahdara and Laxmi Nagar respectively. Only Yusuf won the last election.

Devendra Yadav, Jaikishan, Prahlad Singh Sawhney, Asif Mohammed Khan, Mateen Ahmed and Hasan Ahmed, who had won the polls last time, have been repeated.

Dalit leader Jaikishan will seek a fifth term from Sultanpur Majra, Khan will again fight from Okhla, Sawhney will contest from Chandni Chowk, Mateen Ahmed from Seelampur, Devendra Yadav from Badli and Hasan from Mustafabad. Former mayor Satbir Singh, who will contest from Mehrauli, and Sachin Bidhuri from Tughlakabad seem to be the new faces in the list.

Five-time legislator from Matia Mahal Shoaib Iqbal, who contested the last Assembly polls on a Janata Dal-United ticket and joined Congress in November 2014, has been fielded from the same seat.

The other candidates in the first list are Mukesh Sharma (Uttam Nagar), Dhanvantri Chandela (Rajouri Garden), Surendra Kumar (Bawana), Bijender Singh (Nangloi Jat), Tarvinder Singh Marwah (Jangpura), Balram Tanwar (Chhatarpur), Ram Singh Netaji (Badarpur), Naseeb Singh (Vishwas Nagar) and Bheesham Sharma (Ghonda).

The biggest surprise is that former Assembly speaker Yoganand Shastri, who contested from Mehrauli in the last elections, did not figure in the Congress’ first list.

Three categories
The Congress election managers have divided the 70 seats in three categories – A, B and C.

“Category A seats number around 22 and are the ones which the party is most confident of winning. These seats have a healthy presence of Dalit and Muslim voters who have been the party’s traditional base,” said a party leader.

The Category A seats also include the eight Assembly constituencies which the party won in 2013. The first list of nominees announced by the party relates mainly to the Category A seats.

There are around eight Category B seats – on which the party stood third in 2013 – and the rest 40 seats are Category C which the party sees little chance of winning.

During the December 2013 polls, the Congress party’s vote share was 24.6 percent. In the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, the party’s vote share dropped to 15.1 percent.

The Congress is desperate to win back Dalit and Muslim voters who scripted the Aam Aadmi Party’s amazing run in Delhi voting. The AAP vote share in the last Assembly elections was 29.5 percent, which rose to 32.9 percent in Lok Sabha polls.

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