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Congress shortlist of candidates for upcoming assembly elections likely next month

A screening committee shortlists the candidates after going through the recommendations of state units for ticket allocation and forwards the names to the party’s central election committee for final approval.

Madhya Pradesh Elections 2018 Updated: Aug 27, 2018 09:35 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Congress,Congress election candidates,Madhya Pradesh
In June, Rahul Gandhi had formed screening committees to kick-start the selection of candidates for Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram.(Vipin Kumar/HT Photo)

The Congress is yet to shortlist candidates for the upcoming assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram in spite of an August 15 deadline set by party president Rahul Gandhi for the announcement, according to three senior functionaries familiar with the matter.

However, the functionaries added, the process is moving faster than usual and is likely to be completed by the end of September for the polls scheduled in November-December. The process of identifying candidates in the Congress usually begins a month before the elections and the list is out roughly at the time of filing of nominations.

In June, Gandhi had formed screening committees to kick-start the selection of candidates for the four states. But the panels are yet to meet because the process to get feedback from workers on the ground is taking longer than anticipated though the members have informal discussions, the functionaries said.

A screening committee shortlists the candidates after going through the recommendations of state units for ticket allocation and forwards the names to the party’s central election committee for final approval. At a rally at Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh on May 18, Gandhi had said that 90% of the candidates will be finalised by August 15.

The head of the screening committee for Madhya Pradesh, Madhusudan Mistry, said the shortlisting of candidates will only start after September 4 and majority of contestants will be finalised by the end of next month. “We have already visited Bhopal twice and held discussions with state leaders. We will clear majority of seats by September-end,” Mistry said.

He is being assisted by Mahila Congress general secretary Netta D’Souza and the Congress legislature party (CLP) leader in the Uttar Pradesh assembly, Ajay Kumar Lallu, as the other members of the panel.

In Rajasthan, the screening committee, headed by former union minister Kumari Selja, will formally meet for the first time on August 31 and September 1, according to a Rajasthan Congress office-bearer familiar with the development who asked not to be named.

Apart from Selja, the panel for Rajasthan has Karnataka leader Shakir Sanadi and Lalitesh Tripathi, a former legislator from Uttar Pradesh.

In Chhattisgarh, the committee, headed by former Assam Congress chief Bhubaneswar Kalita, will begin the process of shortlisting the candidates from September 15, according to a Chhattisgarh Congress office-bearer who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The panel members – Rohit Choudhary and Ashvinbhai Kotwal – are touring different districts with All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretaries to identify the winnable candidates from among 1,900 applicants for 90 seats, he added.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress are going head-to-head in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh in what is considered by experts as a precursor to the 2019 general elections. The BJP is in power in all three states.

In his Bilaspur rally, Gandhi had said that tickets will be given to workers dedicated to the party’s ideology and not to those who parachute into the Congress at the time of elections.

“We will not give tickets to those who have been airdropped from helicopters or have come from other parties,” he had said, asserting that party workers will be consulted before fielding candidates.

Gandhi has often disapproved of granting tickets to those leaders who come to the party only to contest polls and fly out after getting defeated. He has also stressed the need for giving “due respect” to Congress workers in ticket allocation.

First Published: Aug 27, 2018 07:16 IST