Projecting Chief Minister Raman Singh as its face in the polls, the party's central election committee on Sunday finalized the initial list of candidates for the November 11 and 19 polls that includes 34 youth faces and six women. Singh will be contesting from Rajnandgaon constituency, while party's state unit chief Ramsewak Paikra will contest from Pratappur (ST) constituency.

Twenty-three of the candidates in the first list are from Scheduled Tribes, nine from Scheduled Castes and 17 from backward classes. The meeting held under the presidentship of BJP chief Rajnath Singh was attended by LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj, Narendra Modi and the state chief minister.

Party general secretary Ananth Kumar told reporters that the CEC has authorized Rajnath Singh to select the remaining 23 candidates in consultation with the Chief Minister. "We have not cut any one's ticket, but only made changes as per the political situation prevailing there," said Ananth Kumar.

BJP general secretary and in charge of the party's Chattissgarh affairs, JP Nadda said the second list will be finalized in another two-three days. Among the remaining aspirants are 15 sitting MLAs, on whose candidatures the party is having second thought and is considering various options available.

The party has declared all its candidates for the first phase of elections that includes Naxal-affected Bastar district from where BJP has denied ticket to two of its sitting MLAs of the total 12 seats from the district. The prominent candidates in the first list include Home Minister Nankiram Kanwar who will contest from Rampur (ST) seat and Health Minister Amar Aggarwal from Bilaspur seat.

Rural Development Minister Ramvichar Netam will contest from Ramanujganj (ST) seat, while Industry Minister Rajesh Munat will contest from Raipur City West and Education and PWD Minister Brijmohan Aggarwal will contest from Raipur City South seat. State Yuva Morcha chief Anurag Singh Dev will contest from Ambikapur seat, while Yudhvir Judev, son of Dilip Singh Dev will contest from Chandrapur seat.

Dharamlal Kaushik, president of the Vidhan Sabha will contest from Bilha seat and Labour and Agriculture Minister Chandrasekhar Sahu will contest from Abhanpur constituency, while Irrigation Minister Hemchand Yadav will contest from the Durg City seat.

Former Speaker Pramprakash Pandey will contest from Bhilai Nagar constituency and Ministers Vikram Usandi and Lata Usendi will contest from Antagarh (ST) and Kondagaon (ST) seats respectively.


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