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Cong second list likely today, Bansal cleared for Chandigarh
The Congress is set to come out with its second list of candidates on Thursday and sources said the party is likely to re-nominate former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who had to resign from the union cabinet over the bribery scandal last year, from his Chandigarh seat.
Union minister Shashi Tharoor is also set to get a renomination, but the party is likely to deny tickets to couple of its MPs in Kerala.
Sources said Congress spokesperson P C Chacko, who headed the Joint Parliamentary Committee, which looked into the 2G spectrum licence allocation, is in the red as the party is yet to decide on his re-nomination from the Thrissur seat. There are reports that he has offered to opt out. Bansal’s name, sources said, has been cleared since his name does not figure in the charge-sheet filed in the bribery case.
Bansal had to resign after his nephew Vijay Singla was arrested by the CBI for allegedly accepting Rs 90 lakh as bribe for helping in the promotion of a Railway Board Member. While Bansal appears to be in the clear, sources said the party has developed cold feet about fielding the wives of Suresh Kalmadi and Ashok Chavan from Pune and Nanded in Maharashtra respectively because of the negative perception such a move could create.
Sources said newly appointed Haryana PCC chief Ashok Tanwar could shift from Sirsa to Ambala although a final decision has not been taken. The Congress had played it safe in its first list by not including any of the controversial leaders.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said it was unfair to attach the tainted tag to Bansal. “No charge sheet has been framed against him. BJP has been leading a diatribe against him, but the fact is that there are no charges against Bansal,” he said.
Asked what was the definition of a “tainted leader” for the Congress, he said the Supreme Court has already defined that referring to its judgement that lawmakers would face immediate disqualification after conviction.
In Kerala, sources said the party could replace its Idukki MP P T Thomas with state youth congress president Deen Kuriakose. All India Mahila Congress vice president Bindu Krishna could be fielded from the Attingal seat in Thiruvananthapuram to take to sitting CPM MP A Sampath. Apart from Tharoor, the other union ministers from the state — K V Thomas (Ernakulam), Mullapally Ramachandran (Vadakara), Kodikunnil Suresh (Mavelikkara) and K C Venugopal (Alappuzha) — are set to be re-nominated.