Lagging behind its rivals Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and AAP in ticket distribution for Punjab elections, the Congress has stepped up the candidate selection process with its first list expected to be out in December.
Congress’ central election committee (CEC), headed by party president Sonia Gandhi, will meet on December 3 to finalise candidates for 70 out of the 117 seats.
Prior to CEC, the screening committee, headed by former Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, will meet on November 23-24 to shortlist the names recommended by the state election committee.
Although Punjab unit chief Captain Amarinder Singh had maintained that Congress candidates will be announced six months before the elections, the fact that the first list is coming two months in advance is also a first for the grand old party.
While the AAP has already come out with its fifth list of candidates, the Akali Dal announced the names of 69 candidates on Wenesday.
Congress sources said the final list will also be out by December 15 to give sufficient time to the candidates to campaign in their constituencies.
Since the Congress is in talks with the CPI for an alliance, it will not announce candidates on seats where the Left is in a strong position.
This time, the Congress has also decided to give one ticket per family. A number of turncoats from the SAD and AAP are also expected to be fielded.
However, the move is set to cause heartburn among the candidates hoping to make it to the final list. Some of the loyalists are already citing party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s first speech after assuming the post in Jaipur. He had then promised to address the issue of anomalies in ticket distribution, saying leaders from other parties parachute just before the elections and fly away after getting defeated.