The Congress on Thursday released its first list of 12 candidates for the first phase of assembly elections in Chhattisgarh on November 12, out of the total 18 seats going to polls in the first phase of elections.
AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik, in a statement, announced the candidates for seats in southern Chhattisgarh, which is infested by Naxals.
Among the candidates fielded by the party are Devati Karma from Dantewada-ST seat, Lakheshwar Baghel from Bastar-ST seat and Shishu Pal Sori from Kanker-ST.
The party also decided that its leader Rekhchand Jain will contest from Jagdalpur assembly seat. These seats are highly sensitive and affected by Naxal violence.
The second phase of polling for the remaining seats 72 will be held on Novmber 20 and results will be out on December 11.
Seven sitting MLAs figure in the party's list for these 12 seats which lie in the Naxal-affected Bastar region.
Shankar Dhruwa, MLA of Kanker, has been denied the ticket this time.
The Central Election Committee of the party announced the names of 12 candidates in Delhi, Chhattisgarh Congress's communication wing head Shailesh Nitin Trivedi said.
Sitting MLAs who have been renominated from their seats are -- Kawasi Lakhma from Konta seat (reserved for Scheduled Tribe), Devti Karma from Dantewada (ST), Mohan Lal Markam from Kondagaon (ST), Santram Netam from Keshkal (ST), Manoj Singh Mandavi from Bhanupratppur (ST), Deepak Baij from Chitrakot (ST) and Lakheshwar Baghel from Bastar (ST).
Devti Karma is the wife of late Mahendra Karma, a former Leader of Opposition, who was a guiding force behind the Salwa Judum, a movement of anti-Naxal vigilante groups.
Mahendra Karma was among 29 people, including then state Congress chief Nandkumar Patel and former Union minister Vidyacharan Shukla, who were killed in the Naxal attack in Darbha area of Bastar district on May 25, 2013.
Former IAS officer Sishupal Sori, a member of the All India Adivasi Congress, has been fielded from Kanker seat, in place of the sitting MLA Shankar Dhruwa.
Chandan Kashyap has been fielded from Narayanpur (ST) and Anoop Nag from Antagarh seat (ST).
Vikram Shah Mandavi has been fielded from Bijapur (ST) and Rekhchand Jain from Jagdalpur, the only unreserved seat in the Bastar division.
In the 2013 Assembly polls, Vikram Shah Mandavi had lost to the BJP's Mahesh Gagda, the current state forest minister.
Rekhchand Jain had lost to BJP's Santosh Bafna in 2008 polls. Bafna is the currently the BJP MLA from Jagdalpur.
Elections to the 90-member Assembly will be held in two phases: November 11 and November 20.
The first phase of polling covers 18 seats spread across eight Naxal-affected districts -- Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Sukma, Kondagaon, Kanker, Narayanpur and Rajnandgaon.
The Congress is yet to declare candidates for the six seats in Rajnandgaon district.
The party's candidates for 72 seats in the second phase will be announced later.
The Congress is out of power in the state for 15 years.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is yet to come out with the list of its candidates. Party sources said it is expected to be released on October 20.
( With inputs from PTI )