Infighting for candidature begins in Cong

Infighting for candidature begins in Cong

That there is major infighting in the Congress in Chhattisgarh can be gauged by the fact that even the supporters of the party's state chief Shiv Dehriya, the Satnami (Scheduled Caste) face of the party, staged aggressive demonstrations demanding that the party field him from the Bhilaigarh Assembly seat.

His candidature is being opposed by P R Khunte, former BJP leader and MP, who had jumped to the Congress a decade ago but has been not in the limelight for long.

After Khunte raised an objection to Dehriya's ticket, 200 supporters of the state chief staged a protest as soon as the election committee meeting started.

In Raipur North constituency, a tussle has started between former Congress MLA Kuldeep Juneja and former Youth Congress office-bearer Vikas Bajaj. Presently, the seat is held by a BJP leader from the Sindhi community, Shrichand Sundrani.

The BJP had, in fact, played the Sindhi card Sundrani ticket. Sindhis are the predominant business community in Chhattisgarh.

Similarly, in Raipur North (Urban) seat, Congress leader Vikas Upadhayay is seen as a strong candidate. He is close to Rahul Gandhi, having worked as the NSUI state president, Youth Congress leader and Raipur Urban District Congress president.

He stepped down from the post of urban president for his candidature as per a directive by the Congress that those claiming ticket should step down from incumbent posts in the party. Pramod Dubey, Raipur's municipal corporation mayor and another leader, Subodh Haritwal, are exerting pressure on the party to shift Upadhyay out.

A bitter spat begun by Haritwal had lead to a major controversy.

Meanwhile, as the state screening committee and election committee meetings are being held in Congress, candidates are trying to woo their leaders to include their names, with the ostensible intention of pulling others down.

Internal sources in the party said there were 1,900 prospective candidates from all over the state for 90 seats.

The list has been curtailed after many candidates withdrew their names in support of others close to them. Now, there is an average of six candidates per seat.

Based on their record in politics, as well as other points, the list will be forwarded to the Central Election Committee, the top body of the Congress party, which will make further curtailment.

While the names are expected to be finalised by September 15, the announcement may be delayed till the last week of September, just to take stock of the on-the-ground situation.