Eight sitting MLAs and 12 former MLAs who unsuccessfully contested the 2013 assembly election are said to be among 25 Congress leaders who are likely to get tickets to contest the coming Delhi assembly polls. The polls are likely to take place in February 2015.
Congress sources said the central election committee of the party, headed by party president Sonia Gandhi, on Saturday gave its approval to the first list of candidates. All 25 candidates have individually been told to start campaigning in their constituencies. Sources said the release of the list was likely to coincide with the official declaration of the elections.
"The CEC met today (Saturday) and discussed the names suggested by the screening committee for 25 seats. The committee found that the names suggested by the screening committee were most suitable and should be given a chance to seek re-election," a senior Congress functionary said.
According to sources, Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh (Gandhi Nagar), legislative party leader Haroon Yusuf (Ballimaran), Jai Kishan (Sultanpur Majra), Mateen Ahmed (Seelampur), Hassan Ahmed (Mustafabad), Parlad Singh Sawhney (Chandni Chowk), Mohammad Asif Iqbal (Okhla), and Devender Yadav (Badli), who won the 2013 election despite a strong anti-Congress wave, had their names cleared for re-election.
Sources said Shoaib Iqbal (Matia Mahal), who won the last five elections on different party tickets and joined Congress in November, has also got the CEC nod. Delhi Congress spokesperson Mukesh Sharma (Uttam Nagar) former health minister Ashok Kumar Walia (Laxmi Nagar), former public works department minister Raj Kumar Chauhan (Mongolpuri) are also in the list of candidates. The list includes two new names who will contest their maiden assembly election.
Interestingly, this is the first time the Congress, known for declaring candidates just ahead of the last date of filing nominations to stem any dissent, has finalised candidates much before the elections have been announced.
The move seems to have been inspired by the Aam Aadmi Party, which decimated the Congress in its debut election in 2013.
"The names that were cleared on Saturday are our best bet in the upcoming election. We have now given them enough time to visit their constituencies and re-strike a chord with the electorate. Some of these candidates are holding regular public meetings in their areas," a senior party functionary said.