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MP: As Congress Declares First List of Candidates, Who Made the Cut and Why?

It has fielded Vikram Mastal against the CM. Mastal played the role of Hanuman in a popular TV serial in 2008.

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At 9.09 am, on the first day of the auspicious Navratri festival, the Congress party in Madhya Pradesh declared its first list of 144 Vidhan Sabha candidates, ahead of the State Assembly election.

There is a lot of numerology involved here. Navratri is celebrated for nine consecutive nights, and 9.09 has nine on either side. Also, the sum of the digits in the number 144 is nine, coinciding with the worship of the nine goddesses during the nine-day-long Navratri festivities.

The Congress also released a 56-second video referring to "9 din, 9 shapath, 1 vision”(nine days, nine vows, and one vision).

The video shows MP Congress Committee President Kamal Nath worshipping the goddess Durga on day one of the festive season, taking a vow to implement the Nari Samman Yojana, a scheme to provide Rs 1500 to every household and Rs 500 for an LPG cylinder.

"This shows our belief in Sanatan Dharma, unlike the BJP which released its lists during Shradhapaksha, a period in the Hindu calendar not considered auspicious for undertaking new works," said K K Mishra, media in-charge of the Madhya Pradesh Congress.

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What About the State Unit's Senior Leaders?

The polling will be held in Madhya Pradesh in one phase on 17 November. Besides MP, elections will also be held in the neighbouring states of Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, Telangana, and Mizoram.

Immersed in saffron, the Congress announced its first list, repeating as many as 69 sitting MLAs, and those who had lost the last election with a thin margin.

Kamal Nath will contest from the Chhindwara assembly segment.

Other senior party leaders on the list include the leader of the opposition, Govind Singh from Lahar in Bhind district, Jitu Patwari from Rau in Indore, Sajjan Singh Verma from Sonkatch in Dewas, Ajay Singh Rahul from Churhat and Kamleshwar Patel from Sihawal — both in Sidhi district, Lakshman Singh from Chachaura in Guna district, and Jaivardhan Singh from Raghogarh in Rajgarh.

While Lakshman Singh is the younger brother of senior party leader Digvijaya Singh, Jaivardhan Singh is Digvijaya's son, an ex-minister in the Kamal Nath government, who was brought down after a major defection by Jyotiraditya Scindia and his 22 MLAs in March 2020.

Rahul Singh is the son of the late Arjun Singh, a former Congress heavyweight.

There are as many as 39 candidates from the OBC community, 22 are scheduled castes, and 30 are tribal candidates. Additionally, there are 6 candidates from the minority community. As many as 63 candidates are less than 50 years of age. There are 19 women candidates from the total of 144.

One of them includes Ram Siya Bharti, a saffron-clad sanyasin like Uma Bharti, from Malehara seat. Malehara is the same seat that was once represented by Uma Bharti. Like Uma, Ram Siya is also known for her discourses on Ramcharitmanas.

NP Prajapati, former Vidhan Sabha speaker during the 15-month rule of Kamal Nath has been denied a ticket. He was an MLA from Gotegaon in Narsinghpur district.

In a strategic move, the party has fielded KP Singh, a five-time MLA from Pichhor from Shivpuri. Pichchor is an assembly segment of Shivpuri. After the BJP dropped Yashodhara Raje Scindia, the aunt of Jyotiraditya from Shivpuri, the party is yet to decide on a candidate from the Pichhor constituency. It is believed that the saffron party may field Scindia. Singh is likely to put up a fight should the 'Maharaja' be fielded from Pichhor.

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Congress Fields Actor Who Played Hanuman Against Shivraj

The Congress is also yet to decide the fate of some prominent BJP leaders who have joined the party in the last few months. These include Deepak Joshi, son of Kailash Joshi, a former CM in BJP-led government, and Bhanwar Singh Shekhawat.

The party has also replaced Kantilal Bhuria, MP Congress president, from Jhabua. Now, Bhuria’s son and the party's youth wing president, Dr Vikrant Bhuria will contest from Jhabua. He is a postgraduate doctor.

Jhabua is a reserved seat for tribals.

Interestingly, the party has fielded Vikram Mastal against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan from the Budhni constituency. Mastal played the role of Hanuman in a popular television serial based on the epic Ramayan produced in 2008. Mastal joined the Congress in July this year in the presence of Kamal Nath.

A video of Mastal, titled Satya Ki Jeet (Victory of the Truth), playing the role of Lord Hanuman is also in circulation in which he is seen holding a dialogue with Lord Rama. Hanuman asks the Lord to issue directions for him after satya ki jeet in Karnataka. Rama directs Hanuman to proceed to Madhya Pradesh to help “bhakta Kamal Nath”.

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The Congress party is also yet to decide on a candidate from Dimni, an assembly segment in Morena, where the union agriculture minister has been fielded by the BJP; and from Narsinghpur, where Union Minister Prahalad Patel is contesting, and also Niwas in the tribal-dominated Mandla where another union minister, Faggan Singh Kulaste, has been given a ticket by the BJP.

The grand old party's candidates for these constituencies are likely to be declared in the next list.

The party has fielded Sanjay Shukla, a sitting MLA from Indore-1, to face Kailash Vijawargiya, the BJP’s national general secretary.

Former finance minister of the Kamal Nath government Tarun Bhanot will be contesting from Jabalpur (west) against another BJP MP and former state party president Rakesh Singh.

The Congress media in-charge KK Mishra said, “These names were decided earlier. The real surprise will be seen in the list of the remaining candidates that will be released in a few days.”

The BJP on the other hand, criticised Congress' list saying, "It reflects parivarvad and the anti-women approach of the Congress."

(The author is a senior journalist based in Madhya Pradesh. This is an opinion article and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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