Gandhis, Manmohan Singh among Congress' 'star campaigners' for Bengal elections
Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi have been named in a list of 30 "star campaigners" for the upcoming West Bengal elections released by the party on Friday. The list also includes top party leaders such as its former president Rahul Gandhi and former Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, among others. Here are more details on this.
"The following leaders of Indian National Congress, who would be campaigning for the ensuing First Phase of elections to the Legislative Assembly of West Bengal," read a letter from Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal addressed to the Secretary of the Election Commission of India (ECI).
The list also featured party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Three sitting Chief Ministers - Ashok Gehlot (of Rajasthan), Captain Amarinder Singh (Punjab), and Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh) - are also part of the list. Mallikarjun Kharge, the leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, former Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath, and West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, have also been named.
Abhishek Banerjee, the son of former President - late Pranab Mukherjee, Salman Khurshid, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Jitin Prasada, Deependra Hooda, and former cricketers Navjot Singh Sidhu and Mohammad Azharuddin, will also campaign for the grand old party in West Bengal. However, leaders of the "G-23" faction of the Congress, including Ghulam Nabi Azad and Kapil Sibal, have been left out of the list.
The Congress is contesting the Bengal elections with the Left Front led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which also includes the recently-formed Indian Secular Front (ISF). However, the elections are being seen primarily as a neck-and-neck fight between two-term Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has seen a resurgence there in the recent past.
The state Assembly elections in West Bengal will be held across eight phases, from March 27 to April 29, and the results will be declared on May 2.