Rahul Gandhi's Top Aide, KC Venugopal, To Contest From Alapuzzha

The Congress released its first list of 39 candidates on Friday.

New Delhi:

In a sign of the Congress’s focus on the southern states, where it is perceived to be in a much stronger position than arch-rival BJP, the party has decided to field KC Venugopal from Alapuzzha in Kerala despite him being a sitting Rajya Sabha MP.

Mr Venugopal, who had held the seat since 2009, had opted not to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections because he was playing a key role in the Congress’ overall strategy for all 543 constituencies. The Congress had ended up losing the seat to the CPM that year.

When he was asked why he was contesting the Lok Sabha polls again, the Congress General Secretary said on Friday, “Brother, our priority is to win the maximum Lok Sabha seats to defeat Narendra Modi in the next elections. Our target is to win the maximum number of parliament seats for the Congress party.”

Seen as a top organisation man as well as the right-hand man of former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Mr Venugopal has been a three-time MLA as well as a two-term MP. He was a cabinet minister in the Kerala government as well as a junior minister in the Union government twice. 

In the list of 39 candidates announced by the Congress on Friday, 16 are from Kerala. Apart from Mr Venugopal, another name that stands out is that of Shashi Tharoor, who will be contesting from Thiruvananthapuram.

Mr Tharoor, who has held the seat since 2004, will face off against Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar of the BJP, who will be making his electoral debut. 

The Congress is in power in three states in the south – Karnataka and Telangana, where it has a majority on its own, and Tamil Nadu, where it shares power with the DMK. 

The BJP, on the other hand, does not have a government in any southern state. It had also won only 29 of the 129 seats (130 including Puducherry). These had come from Karnataka and Telangana, where it is expected to face a stiffer challenge this time around. 


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