Cong banks on youth to unseat Raman Singh

Candidates' profiles give evidence of Rahul stamp

The first list of 17 candidates the Congress released on Tuesday for the forthcoming Chhattisgarh elections offered plenty of evidence on the party’s reliance on youth and frontal organisations to rest power from the 10-year-old BJP government in the state.

Featuring in the list were Umesh Patel, Alka Mudliyar and Devti Karma, the kin of top Congress leaders murdered by Maoists in Darbha ghati area on Bastar district on May 25, who would respectively contest from Kharasia, Rajnandgaon and Dantewada constituencies.

Umaesh is son of late PCC chief Nandkumar Patel, while Alka is wife of the party’s erstwhile state general secretary late Uday Mudliyar. Devti is wife of former home minister and firebrand leader Mahendra Karma, who was known for his anti-Maoist stand and founder of armed civilian vigilante Salwa Judum.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi had earlier promised to field kin of the murdered leaders, as the party understandably attempts to cash in on the ghastly attack that wiped out its state leadership with the slogan ‘Shahdat ko Salam’ (salute to the martyrdom).

Nandkumar Patel and Mahendra Karma were among 18 top leaders killed by Maoists as they returned from a ‘Parivartan’ rally.

The first list also has six youth -Patel (Kharasia), Shankarlal Dhruwa (Kanker), Sant Netam (Keshkal), Chandan Kashyap (Narayanpur), Shamu Kashyap (Jagdalpur) and Dipak Baij (Chitrakot).

In the previous elections, Congress had fielded five women candidates in the Bastar region, none of whom were able to win.

A poor show in Bastar region had cost the Congress dear in the 2008 assembly elections. The party which had considerable hold among the tribal population in the region had managed to win just one of the 12 seats in the region.

A two-horse race for the 90-member Chhattisgarh Assembly featuring Congress and the BJP would mean that either party can capture power with the slightest margin of votes. Congress could be in the advantage if anti-incumbency works against the Raman Singh government.

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