Raipur: The Congress has fielded former BJP MP and niece of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Karuna Shukla, against Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh from the Rajnandgaon seat.
Shukla was among the six candidates named in the second list of Congress candidates for the assembly elections that will take place next month. Congress sources said that the screening committee of the party had recommended her name to take on the Chief Minister.
While Girwar Janghel will contest from Khairagarh seat, Bhuneshwar Singh Baghel will contest from Dongargarh-SC seat and Daleshwar Sahu from Dongargaon assembly constituency. The party has also fielded Channi Sahu from Khujji seat and Indra Shah Mandavi from Mohla-Manpur (ST) seat.
The Congress has declared candidates for all 18 seats that will go to polls in the first phase. The candidates for remaining 72 seats that will go to polls in the second phase are yet to be declared.
The former PM’s niece has been vocal in her criticism of the Raman Singh government and had also accused the BJP of politicising Vajpayee’s death by carrying his ashes across India for electoral gains in 2019.
“The way BJP is carrying the ashes of Atal Bihari Vajpayee around the country, it is a show off and for votes. Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh and his cabinet never remembered him until now, especially when he had created the state,” she had told News18.
Shukla, who previously represented Janjgir as Member of Parliament and remained an MLA in undivided Madhya Pradesh, had left the BJP in 2013 after accusing the party of torturing her ‘mentally’. This had ended her three-decade association with the party.
She had contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Bilaspur on a Congress ticket, but had lost to BJP’s Lakhan Lal Sahu of BJP from Bilaspur.
For Shukla, it would be the toughest test in her political career as CM Raman Singh is seeking a fourth consecutive term as CM after ousting Congress’ Ajit Jogi from power in 2003.
The Congress is out of power in Chhattisgarh for the last 15 years. The BJP has so far announced candidates for 78 seats, including the 18 going to the polls in the first phase. October 23 is the last day of filing nominations for first phase.