New Delhi: Despite defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the recently concluded Assembly polls and forming government under the leadership of Kamal Nath in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress central leadership is still finding it tough to choose candidates on almost 50% of the total 29 Lok Sabha seats of the state.

Starting from 29 April, the Lok Sabha elections will be held in four phases in Madhya Pradesh. The state will vote for eight seats in the last phase, which is to be held on 19 May. According to sources, the Congress screening committee—a body formed to decide on the names of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls—has already held four rounds of meetings, but it has still not been able to figure out candidates who can make inroads in MP’s 11 seats that constitute a little less than 50% of the total seats of the state and are considered as strongholds of the BJP.

A source close to the screening committee told The Sunday Guardian: “The Congress screening committee postponed its meeting on Thursday because members were not sure about the names suggested by MP state in-charge Deepak Babaria. The Congress screening committee directed Babaria to tap the big and heavyweight candidates for the 11 toughest Lok Sabha seats.”

Since 1989, as many as 11 Lok Sabha seats of Madhya Pradesh have been posing challenges for the Congress. These 11 seats include Bhind and Damoh where the BJP has been winning since 1989. In 30 years, Congress has never been able to take on the BJP on these two seats. Besides Damoh and Bhind constituencies, there are 8 Lok Sabha seats—Betul, Mandsaur, Morena, Rewa, Satna, Sagar, Sidhi and Hoshangabad—where since 1989, the Congress has won only once. Only on the Shahdol Lok Sabha constituency, Congress managed to win twice in 30 years.

“The Congress is facing a kind of crisis on Shahdol constituency as Himandri Singh, who is daughter of former Union Minister Dalbir Singh, was Congress candidate in 2016 Lok Sbaha by-polls on Shahdol, but recently she left the Congress and joined BJP and is also a part of the BJP’s candidates’ panel. Now, the Congress is facing difficulty in finding the right candidate for this constituency,” the source said.

In the 2014 general elections, out of the total 29 seats, the BJP won 27 seats in Madhya Pradesh. The Congress managed to win only two seats—Chhindwara and Guna. However, victory in Assembly polls this year has given as a breather to the party which had been out of power in MP for 15 years.

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