With the crucial assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh entering the decisive phase, the Congress is making last-minute changes in the already declared list of candidates to weed out the tainted nominees and go to the polls with a clean image.
The party is contesting 356 seats this time and has left 47 for Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal. It has so far changed 14 names, some of them apparently after Rahul Gandhi visited their constituencies.
A Congress leader said as many as 40 candidates were selected despite serious reservations as the party failed to get "better alternatives".
The 2012 UP assembly elections saw a major change in the Congress strategy. For the first time, the party that usually comes out with the list of candidates a day or two before the filing of nomination papers announced the names weeks ahead of the elections.
On Monday, the party changed two candidates — BK Gupta with Syed Zaqi Ashrafi from Pilibhit and Anees Ahmed Khan in place of Dev Swaroop Patel from Bisalpur.
Khan alias Phool Babu, a former minister who was sacked by UP chief minister Mayawati over misuse of his MLA fund, and Patel were replaced after they admitted on camera during a sting operation by a TV channel to having accepted money from corporate houses to win the elections from their constituencies.
The decision to replace Sikandrabad candidate Nizam Malik with Jitendra Yadav, whose son is married to RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav's daughter, evoked strong protests outside the party headquarters in Delhi.
The party also replaced its Bhongaon candidate Brijesh Kumar Yadav with Rakesh Kumari alias Rashmi Rajput, who had contested the 2007 assembly polls on a BJP ticket.