Congress Replaces Jaipur City Loksabha Candidate After Outrage

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Congress Replaces Jaipur City Loksabha Candidate After Outrage

| Updated: March 25, 2024 15:41

The Congress party has replaced Sunil Sharma, who was initially chosen for the Jaipur city Loksabha seat, following a political uproar over his association with Jaipur Dialogues, a right-wing forum known for targeting the Congress leadership and minority communities.

On March 24, the party announced former minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas as the new candidate. Khachariyawas, a minister in the Ashok Gehlot government, was named alongside two other candidates in a fresh list released on Sunday. Murari Lal Meena was named for the Dausa seat in Rajasthan and Pratibha Dhanorkar was given a party ticket for the Chandrapur seat in Maharashtra.

The controversy surrounding Sharma escalated when senior Congress leader and Lok Sabha member from Thiruvananthapuram, Shashi Tharoor, questioned the party’s choice on social media. Tharoor shared a post by the official handle of Jaipur Dialogue that had targeted him, calling him another “Rahul Gandhi who stole a thesaurus from a library on his way out.”

Sharma refuted the allegations, denying any association with the Jaipur Dialogues YouTube channel or its Twitter handle. He also denied being a director of Jaipur Dialogues and claimed to have severed ties with the platform long ago. “This is completely fake news and false propaganda being floated to diminish the prospects of the Congress Party,” Sharma said.

The Jaipur City Loksabha seat is considered a stronghold of the Brahmin community, which played a role in the selection of Sharma. However, his Brahmin identity was overshadowed by the allegations of his direct association with Jaipur Dialogues.

Facing an embarrassing predicament, the party dropped Sharma, whose family has been associated with the Congress since the Independence struggle. His father was a freedom fighter and a general secretary in the Congress Socialist Party. Sharma, now Chairman and Chancellor of Suresh Gyan Vihar University in Jaipur, joined the Congress in 1981 and has held various posts, including party general secretary and in-charge of the media cell.

The Jaipur Dialogues was launched in 2016 by retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Sanjay Dixit. It identifies itself as a “platform for right-thinking people” and most of the content posted from its official handle targets Opposition leaders, including Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal.

The party also faced outrage on social media platforms over Chowdhary Lal Singh, who has been fielded from the Udhampur Loksabha seat. Singh, a two-term former Congress MP before joining the BJP in 2014, rejoined the Congress on March 20. He had previously courted controversy for supporting the accused in the Kathua gang rape case.

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