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Lok Sabha polls: Congress announces candidates for MP & Goa, sitting MP Francisco Sardinha dropped from the list

The Congress party on Saturday released a list of six candidates for parliamentary constituencies of North and South Goa; Morena, Khandwa & Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh and Dadar & Nagar Haveli. All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary K C Venugopal made the announcement ending the INDIA bloc’s prolonged wait for its candidates in Goa.

Sitting Congress MP from Goa, Francisco Sardinha has been dropped from the party’s list of candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Former Union minister Ramakant Khalap has been given a ticket from the North Goa constituency, while Capt. Viriato Fernandes is set to fight from South Goa.

Khalap (76) was elected as an MP on the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) ticket from North Goa from 1996-1998.

He was the Union minister of state for law in late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s cabinet. He later left the MGP to join Congress. As a law minister then, Khalap worked for the enactment of the Arbitration Act of India and drafted amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure of India and the Code of Criminal Procedures of India. He also introduced the Women’s Reservation Bill in Parliament.

Fernandes, the Congress’s candidate from South Goa, is an ex-Indian Navy officer. His profile on X handle states that he was a retired officer of the Indian Navy, a “Kargil War soldier, mechanical engineer, aeronautics engineering specialisation and double MBA”. He unsuccessfully contested the 2022 Goa legislative assembly elections from the Dabolim constituency.

in addition to this, the grand old party has fielded former MLA Praveen Pathak against BJP’s Bharat Singh Kushwaha from Gwalior. Pathak had been elected on a Congress ticket from Gwalior South assembly seat in 2018 but faced defeat in 2023.

Ex-legislator Satyapal Singh Sikarwar has been nominated from Morena and will face off with BJP’s Shivmangal Singh Tomar.
This Lok Sabha seat was won by BJP’s Narendra Singh Tomar in 2019, but he was elected as an MLA last year and later made the speaker of the Madhya Pradesh assembly.

Sikarwar was elected as MLA from the Sumawali assembly seat in 2013 on a BJP ticket. His father had also won the same assembly seat in 2003. Sikarwar was expelled from the saffron outfit in 2020 for alleged anti-party activities, following which he joined the Congress.
Congress has fielded Narendra Patel from Khandwa amid speculations that former union minister Arun Yadav could be the candidate from there.

Meanwhile, Ajit Ramjibhai Mahla has been given a ticket from Dadra and Nagar Haveli Lok Sabha constituency, a seat reserved for Scheduled Tribes.

In a video statement, Ajit Malha thanked the Congress’s district and national leadership for offering him a chance to serve the people of his constituency.

A former government school teacher, Ajit Mahla belongs to a political family and started his career as a member of the Congress’s student wing National Students’ Union of India (NSUI).

Ramji Mahla was the secretary and joint secretary of the Youth Congress and served as the Congress secretary between 2006 and 2010.

Malha is pitted against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Kalaben Delkar, the sitting MP, who won the by-election in 2021 as a Shiv Sena candidate after the death of her husband and then MP Mohan Delkar.

The Lok Sabha polls in Goa will be held in a single phase on May 7, and the counting of votes will be held on June 4.

The ruling BJP has already announced candidates for North Goa (Shripad Naik) and South Goa (Pallavi Dempo) seats.

The North Goa seat has been a bastion of the ruling BJP since 1999, while South Goa, which has a sizable Christian population has mostly remained with the Congress, but was also won by the BJP and regional parties a few times.

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