As many as 150 candidates have filed their nominations for the seven Lok Sabha constituencies in Chhattisgarh that will vote in the third phase on April 23. Elections to the 11 Lok Sabha seats in the state will be held in three phases – on April 11, April 18 and April 23.

A total of 150 candidates, including those from main rivals Congress and the BJP, have filed their nominations for the third phase, Chief Electoral Officer Subrat Sahoo said in a statement here Friday.

Thursday was the last day for filing nominations for the seats going to the polls on April 23.

Of these, the maximum – 32 – nominations were filed for the Raipur Lok Sabha seat followed by Bilaspur (28), Durg (27), Korba (20), Janjgir-Champa (SC-18), Raigarh (ST-14) and Kanker (ST-11), he said.

On the last day of filing nominations, 70 contestants submitted their papers, Sahoo added.

The nominations will be scrutinised Friday and the contestants can withdraw their names till April 8.

In the high-profile Raipur seat, the BJP has denied ticket to its seven-time MP Ramesh Bais and pinned its hopes on party’s state vice-president Sunil Soni.

Soni, a former Mayor of the Raipur Municipal Corporation, would take on Pramod Dubey, his main rival from the Congress who is the incumbent Mayor of the state capital.

Similarly, the BJP has replaced Union Minister of State for Steel and four-time MP Vishnudeo Sai in Raigarh with Gomtee Sai, president of the Jashpur district panchayat.

The ruling Congress has fielded its sitting MLA Laljeet Singh Rathiya in Raigarh.

The BJP has also dropped its sitting MPs in Surguja, Korba and Bilaspur and fielded Renuka Singh, Jyotinand Dubey and Arun Sao, respectively, from these seats.

The Congress has fielded it prominent tribal leader Khelsai Singh — a sitting MLA — in Surguja, Jyotsana Mahant in Korba and its state general secretary Atal Shrivastav in Bilaspur.

Jyotsana Mahant is the wife of Chhattisgarh assembly speaker Charan Das Mahant.

In another important seat – Durg – the BJP and the Congress have fielded their former MLAs – Vijay Baghel and Pratima Chandrakar, respectively.

In Janjgir-Champa – the lone Scheduled Caste reserved seat in the state – the BJP has given ticket to former MP Guharam Ajgale, while Congress has fielded Ravi Bhardwaj, the son of former Member of Parliament Parasram Bhardwaj.