In a bid to spruce up its poll campaign and energise party cadre in UP, the Congress is likely to field former Union ministers and (MPs from the state in the crucial 2017 assembly elections.
The proposal has been sent to party vice-president Rahul Gandhi a few weeks ago and the move is set to get his nod, Congress sources told HT.
“The idea is to fully engage former Union ministers and ex-MPs in the election strategy, make them stakeholders, and give a high-profile colour to the upcoming polls,” an All India Congress Committee (AICC) functionary said. “The move has also been endorsed by Prashant Kishor.”
In the 15th Lok Sabha, Congress had 22 MPs, including party chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul, from the politically important state that sends the highest number of MPs (80) to the 543-member lower house.
While only Sonia and Rahul got elected in the 2014 LS elections, former Congress MP from Domariyaganj, Jagdambika Pal, won on a BJP ticket. Former minister Beni Prasad Verma (Gonda) switched sides and joined Samajwadi Party earlier this month. Sanjay Singh and Raj Babbar, who had won from Sultanpur and Firozabad respectively in 2009 LS elections, are now Rajya Sabha MPs.
That leaves former ministers Jitin Prasada, RPN Singh, Salman Khurshid, Sriprakash Jaiswal and Pradeep Jain Aditya apart from ex-MPs Raja Ram Pal, PL Punia, Kamal Kishor, Praveen Singh Aaron, Nirmal Khatri (also the state chief), Zafar Ali Naqvi, Harsh Vardhan, Mohammad Azharuddin, Rajkumari Ratna Singh, Vinay Kumar Pandey and Annu Tandon as probable candidates.
The functionary said these leaders will also be given a “free hand” to select a candidate of their choice for the seat adjoining their assembly constituencies. To gauge the organisational strength of Congress at the grassroots, Kishor, who is handling the party’s campaign in UP and Punjab, had sought names of 20 workers from each of the 75 districts of the state.