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In Chhattisgarh: a look at BJP’s final candidate list and unpacking key figures for the first phase of polling

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday released its fourth and final list of candidates for the upcoming Chhattisgarh Assembly elections, fielding party leader Rajesh Agarwal from Ambikapur constituency against state Deputy Chief Minister TS Singh Deo. The party’s final list has four candidates which include Sushant Shukla from Beltara, Dhaniram Dhivar from Kasdol and […]

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday released its fourth and final list of candidates for the upcoming Chhattisgarh Assembly elections, fielding party leader Rajesh Agarwal from Ambikapur constituency against state Deputy Chief Minister TS Singh Deo. The party’s final list has four candidates which include Sushant Shukla from Beltara, Dhaniram Dhivar from Kasdol and Dipesh Sahu from Bemetara. The first phase of polling for 20 seats in Chhattisgarh will be held on 7 November.

The BJP has now declared candidates for all 90 seats of the state assembly. The party’s first list of 21 candidates included Lok Sabha MP Vijay Baghel, who has been fielded against Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel in Patan in Durg district. The second list had 64 candidates and the third list had a single name. Last week, the BJP released the list of 40 of its star campaigners for the first phase of the state polls.

Notably, missing from the list was the sitting MLA from the Beltara seat, Rajnish Singh. The saffron party decided to instead field 40-year-old Sushant Shukla from Beltara. Shukla, a former member of the state youth commission, is co-incharge of the state Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the BJP’s youth wing. The second phase of polling will be held on 17 November. Votes will be counted on 3 December.

In the high-profile Ambikapur seat, the party has named Rajesh Agrawal, a member of its Surguja district executive committee. Deputy Chief Minister and incumbent MLA TS Singh Deo is the Congress nominee from Ambikapur. Agrawal, a businessman, joined the BJP after quitting Congress ahead of the assembly elections held in 2018. The two other candidates, Dhaniram Dhiwar (Kasdol seat) and Dipesh Sahu (Bemetara) are also fresh faces.

Of the 90 candidates from BJP, 33 are from OBC (Other Backward Class), 30 from Scheduled Tribe (ST), 10 from Scheduled Caste (SC), state BJP media joint in-charge Anurag Agrawal said. The BJP has now declared all 90 candidates in the state. The party’s first list of 21 candidates included Lok Sabha MP Vijay Baghel, who has been fielded against Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel in Patan in Durg district. The party has denied tickets to two of the 13 incumbent MLAs this time. The Congress has also declared the names of all its 90 candidates.

OVER 200 CANDIDATES IN FRAY
A total of 223 candidates were in the fray for the first phase of Assembly polls comprising 20 seats in Chhattisgarh after the deadline for withdrawal of nomination papers ended on Monday, an official said. The candidates include State Congress chief Deepak Baij and former Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party vice president Raman Singh.
Polls for these 20 seats in seven Naxalite-affected districts in Bastar division and four other districts will take place in the first phase of voting.

“A total of 294 candidates had filed their nominations for the first phase. Of these, papers of 253 were found valid after scrutiny. Of them, 30 candidates withdrew their nomination on Monday, leaving 223 in the fray,” a statement from the office of the Chief Electoral Officer read. The first phase of voting will cover Antagarh (ST), Bhanupratappur (ST), Kanker (ST), Kondagaon (ST), Narayanpur (ST), Bastar (ST), Jagdalpur, Keshkal (ST), Chitrakot (ST), Dantewada (ST), Bijapur (ST), Konta (ST), Khairagarh, Dongargarh (SC), Rajnandgaon, Dongargaon, Khujji, Mohla-Manpur (ST), Kawardha and Pandariya seats.
The highest number of contestants are in Rajnandgaon constituency (29), while the lowest number of candidates are seven each in Chitrakot and Dantewada seats.

Former Chief Minister Raman Singh (Rajnandgaon) and four former State Ministers Kedar Kashyap (Narayanpur), Lata Usendi (Kondagaon), Vikram Usendi (Antagarh) and Mahesh Gagda (Bijapur), and former IAS officer Neelkanth Tekam (Keshkal) are among key candidates from BJP for this phase.

Of the 20 seats going to polls in the first phase, 12 are reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST) and one for Scheduled Castes (SC) category. The total number of electors in these 20 seats is 40,78,681, comprising 19,93,937 male, 20,84,675 female and 69 third gender. A total of 5,304 polling stations have been set up for the first phase, as per officials.

FIRST PHASE OF POLLING

Seats covered: seven in Naxal-affected areas, four others
Total seats going to polls: 20
Total polling stations: 5,304
Reserved seats: 13
Seats for Scheduled Tribes: 12
Seats for Scheduled Castes: 1
Total electors for 20 seats: 40,78,681
Male electors for 20 seats: 19,93,937
Female electors for 20 seats: 20,84,675
Third gender electors: 69

CANDIDATES IN THE FRAY

Total nominations: 294
Total nominations found valid: 253
Highest nominations: 29 in Rajnandgaon constituency
Lowest nominations: 7 each in Chitrakot and Dantewada
Key BJP candidates: Raman Singh (Rajnandgaon); Kedar Kashyap (Narayanpur) ; Lata Usendi (Kondagaon) ; Vikram Usendi (Antagarh) ; M ahesh Gagda (Bijapur) ; former IAS officer Neelkanth Tekam (Keshkal)

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