WITH A year to go to the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, the state Congress is set to interview all probable candidates for the elections. The move reportedly comes after the party recently roped in political strategist Prashant Kishor to improve its performance in UP and Punjab polls in 2017.
Congress, which has already conducted three rounds of extensive surveys keeping in mind the polls, has deputed senior leaders like AICC general secretary Madhusudan Mistry, state party president Nirmal Khatri and AICC secretaries in-charge of UP for the task.
Sources in the party said the exercise would begin from April, along with other activities, including padyatras in every district, on issues like the Food Security Act and MGNREGA.
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Admitting that they suspect that the 2017 elections would be fought on the basis of seats rather than a “wave”, a senior leader said: “This way, candidates become more significant than anything else. Thus, while a large number of issues would be raised in the near future, now is the time to focus on the right candidates.”
So far, to identify probable candidates and do a ground assessment, the party has got an independent survey conducted by a private agency.
While AICC appointed observers have submitted their reports, Mistry and Khatri too have prepared a separate report on the basis of recommendations made by district and block presidents of the party. Based on these reports, interviews of probable candidates would begin in April.
Though earlier, the party had decided to finalise a considerable number of candidates by July, sources said this interview exercise is likely to push the deadline further. Sources said with this exercise, Congress also wishes to reduce chances of rebellion within the party — by giving everyone a chance to present their case personally.
“It has been realised that personal interaction with probable candidates before a final selection is made is needed for a larger perspective. We plan to camp at the divisional headquarters to meet the probable candidates,” said Khatri, adding that the exercise would start after Holi.
Though it is yet to be confirmed that Kishor would be a part of these interviews, his team is likely to be there to collect data and statistics.
Meanwhile, each district has been asked to begin a mass contact programme in every constituency from April focusing on the Food Security Act and MGNREGA. Claiming credit for both the schemes, the party would also raise the issue of law and order situation in the state during the foot marches.
On Monday, Congress leaders submitted a memorandum to Governor Ram Naik seeking his intervention for the better implementation of the Food Security Act and raising concern over recent incidents of rape, murder and loot in the state.