BJP, Congress announces candidates for Goa, Punjab polls (Roundup)

New Delhi, Jan 12 (IANS) Goa’s ruling BJP and opposition Congress on Thursday declared their first lists of candidates for the February 4 Assembly polls.

While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) list has 29 names, showing Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar as a candidate from Mandrem, the Congress list names 27 nominees.

The two parties also declared their lists for Punjab Assembly polls, which are also due for February 4.

With barely three weeks left for polling in these two states, the parties are keen to announce their candidates as early as possible to allow them to begin their campaigning.

Apart from Goa and Punjab, elections are also to be held to Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Uttarakhand assemblies in February-March. The results of all these polls will be declared on March 11.

With the announcement of 23 names in the third list on Thursday, the Congress has so far released names of 100 candidates for Punjab, but it is yet to announce the names of candidates for the remaining 17 seats.

However, the party has not yet made any declaration on cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu joining the party, although he has met Vice President Rahul Gandhi.

The northern state faces a triangular contest between the Congress, SAD-BJP and the aam Aadmi Parti (AAP).

The BJP announced its first list of 17 candidates for Punjab on Thursday, fielding its sitting MLA Dinesh Singh Babbu from Sujanpur, Seema Kumari from Bhoa (SC), Ashwani Sharma from Pathankot, K.D. Bhandari from Jalandhar North and Sukhjeet Kaur Sahi from Dasuya.

These names were cleared by the party’s Central Election Committee (CEC), said Union Minister J.P. Nadda.

In Goa, which has a 40-member assembly, the BJP faces a tough challenge as the AAP has emerged as a strong force. Also, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), Shiv Sena and the Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) have decided to contest the polls together. The GSM has been founded by rebel Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader Subhash Velingkar.

The BJP’s first list for Goa has names of the 18 incumbent legislators.

Ramrao Wagh, brother of sitting St. Andre MLA Vishnu Wagh, who was hospitalised last year, has been finalised from the same Legislative Assembly seat.

The list of 29 MLAs, however, does not include candidates for the Mayem and Canacona seat, which have seen intense squabbles between sitting MLAs Anant Shet and Ramesh Tawadkar, respectively. While Shet is the Speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly, Tawadkar is the Sports Minister.

The list of Congress candidates for Goa was released by the party General Secretary Madhusudan Mistry here and contains names of former Chief Ministers Pratapsingh Rane (Poriem), Ravi Naik (Ponda), Digambar Kamat (Margao) and Luizinho Faleiro (Navelim).

Faleiro, a former member of the Congress Working Committee, is also the state Congress President.

The list also includes three women candidates — Jennifer Monserrate (Taleigao), Urmila Naik (Madkai) and Savitri Kavlekar (Sanguem).

Kavlekar is the wife of sitting Quepem MLA Chandrakant Kavlekar, whose name also features in the first list of the party.

The father-son duo of Prapatsingh Rane and Vishwajit Rane (Valpoi) has also been included.

Eleven out of the 27 announced candidates would be contesting assembly polls on the Congress ticket for the first time, or in many cases, making their debut in the state elections.

The Congress is also likely to tie up with two regional parties — the Goa Forward and the United Goans Party.

The party sources said that the final round of talks are on between the leaders of all the three parties over seat-sharing.

–IANS

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