The Congress has released its first list of 155 candidates for the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh. The list doesn't include either of the party's two chief ministerial probables – state unit chief Kamal Nath and Guna lawmaker Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Congress national secretary and sitting legislator Jitu Patwari has been fielded from Rau in Indore district and senior party leader Suresh Pachauri will be contesting from Raisen district's Bhojpur seat. The latter is a known BJP stronghold, represented four times by former chief minister Sunderlal Patwa and the last two times by his nephew Surendra Patwa, who is also a minister in the state government.
Six-time legislator Dr Govind Singh has be renominated from the Lahar seat in Bhind district. He is one of the few Congress leaders who has consistently held his ground in the Chambal region, where the BJP has been dominant and the Bahujan Samaj Party too has some influence.
In neighbourng Gwalior district, three time legislator Lakhan Singh Yadav has been renominated from Bhitrwar and Imarti Devi from the Dabra constituency.
Kharera legilslator Shakuntala Khatik, who had grabbed the headlines last year when she threatened to burn down a police station following the policing firing in Mandsaur, has been dropped. Jaswant Jatav has been fielded from the seat, which is reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates.
Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh's brother Laxman Singh has been given a ticket from the Chachaura seat in Guna district. This is the seat that Digvijaya Singh had won in a by-election 1994, when he became the chief minister. His son Jaivardhan Singh has been renominated from the family pocket-borough of Raghogarh, which has been represented by Digvijaya Singh in 1998 and 2003 and Laxman Singh in 1990 and 1993.
Another Congress veteran to be given a ticket is four-time legislator from Amarpatan Rajendra Kumar Singh.
The party is yet to declare candidates for 75 out of the 230 seats in the state. Some of these happen to be seats currently held by the party.
The run-up to the Congress' first list hasn't been without its fair share of drama. On Thursday, the declaration of the list reportedly got scuttled mid-way after Digvijaya Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia had a huge argument, sources said. However, the former chief minister later denied that such a spat ever took place.
The Congress had appointed Kamal Nath as the party's state unit chief, keeping in mind the rivalry between Mr Scindia and Digvijaya Singh. But selection of candidates is said to have disrupted the delicate balance.
To resolve the deadlock, the party is reported to have deputed senior leaders Ashok Gehlot, Veerappa Moily and Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel.