Running scared? Chidambaram opts out of Lok Sabha battle, Congress fields his son

NEW DELHI (TIP): Finance minister P Chidambaram has opted out of the Lok Sabha contest, with Congress announcing his son Karthi as the candidate from Sivaganga constituency in Tamil Nadu. Kirit Patel will take on BJP patriarch LK Advani in Gandhinagar in Gujarat.

The passing of baton in Sivaganga caps the intense speculation on Chidambaram’s candidature in the wake of Congress’s bleak prospects in the state owing to its failure to find an ally. Congress fought the last two elections with DMK and reaped a rich tally, disproportionate to its weak organizational muscle in the state.

The leg-up for the GenNext extends to another of the state’s political family. Mohan Kumaramangalam, son of former Union minister Rangarajan Kumaramangalam, is the rookie to contest from Salem. In what may have the making of an interesting contest, Laxman Singh has been named from Vidisha to take on leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj in Madhya Pradesh. Singh is a former MP and the brother of AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh.

Congress announced sitting MPs Ramesh Kumar and Mahabal Mishra from South Delhi and West Delhi, a decision which means that all seven party MPs from the capital would be taking the field in the Lok Sabha polls. The names of Kumar and Mishra were held back in the earlier list which gave the go ahead to five other MPs, raising the possibility of their being replaced. However, the party leadership has settled for the status quo, finding that any attempt to change the candidate would skew the caste balance it wants in its representation in the apital.

The reprieve for the two comes after Congress mulled possible options to sitting MPs. The Central Election Committee of the party had taken exception to the routine manner in which the MPs were recommended for renomination and had asked the Delhi managers to submit a panel of possible candidates. Union health minister and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad would contest from Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir. He replaces MP Lal Singh Chaudhary. Congress has also replaced Paranjayadityasinh Parmar from Panchmahals in Gujarat with Ramsingh Parmar.

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Paranjayaditya is the son-in-law of Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh and his nomination in the previous list of candidates had sparked unrest, leading to clarification from the state leadership that it was an oversight. Rajya Sabha MP and former union minister Mani Shankar Aiyer will contest from Mayiladuthurai that he represented in Lok Sabha before losing in 2009. Expelled JD(U) MP Purnmasi Ram will be the Congress candidate from Gopalganj reserved seat in Bihar. Also, Congress’s Tsering Samphel will contest from Ladakh seat in J&K.

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