The Congress has factored in an anti-incumbency wave in some assembly seats before finalising the first list of candidates for the 2017 polls in Uttarakhand, although the party earlier hinted at repeating its sitting MLAs.
Anti-incumbency in some sitting MLAs’ seats cropped up during meetings of state leaders with the Congress screening committee, led by Kumari Selja, in New Delhi on December 28 and 29, party sources said.
“While granting tickets to the sitting MLAs was being talked about, a section of leaders raised the possibility of an anti-incumbency wave sweeping some seats and the ways to tackle it. A final decision on those seats is likely to be taken during the next meeting scheduled for January 4 or so,” a senior Congress leader, who attended the meeting, told HT on Friday on the condition of anonymity.
Party insiders said around 20 sitting legislators were told to assess ground realities in their constituencies, although state Congress office-bearers denied that a final decision has been taken on the ‘sitting-getting’ formula (fielding all MLAs again).
“It (the screening committee) has not finalised anything (about the ‘sitting-getting’ formula) yet. That our central leadership is studying the party’s current standing with such depth by listening to and seeking suggestions from state leaders shows its seriousness towards Uttarakhand,” state Congress vice-president Jot Singh Bisht told HT. He denied that anti-incumbency was discussed during the meetings.
Those who met the screening committee included ministers Indira Hridayesh and Pritam Singh, MLA and Women’s Congress chief Sarita Arya, Youth Congress president Bhuwan Kapri, around 25 members of the state election committee, and more than 20 ticket hopefuls. The screening committee held one-on-one discussions with the ticket aspirants.
A member of state Congress organisation said issuing tickets to sitting MLAs was an “unsaid tradition” of the party. “Even if there’s an issue of anti-incumbency in any seat, the party will find ways to fight it,” said the member who did not wish to be named.