HAVING ALREADY conducted three exercises in the past to identify probable candidates for the Assembly elections next year, Congress has once again asked its district units to submit a panel of names for each constituency by December 11. It plans to announce the first list of candidates later this month.
The party has also asked district units for a list of “winnable” seats and “strong candidates”, along with the names of workers who have the capacity to gather a crowd of 8,000 to 10,000 in each constituency.
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Though there is no final word on whether Congress will go for pre-poll alliance, sources said the party is preparing for both situations — contesting alone as well as in alliance.
Earlier this year, AICC-appointed observers had submitted reports to then state party in charge Madhusudan Mistry on selection of probable candidates. Following this, the state Congress, then led by Nirmal Khatri, had asked district units to submit a panel of probable candidates for each constituency. This list was finalised after Mistry and Khatri, who is now chairman of the party’s screening committee, held one-to-one meetings with district and block heads of the concerned constituencies.
Around two months ago, the team of poll strategist Prashant Kishor, hired by the Congress, conducted another exercise. They visited districts to gather information about probable candidates.
Now, the third such exercise would be conducted by the new party in charge of UP, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and state president Raj Babbar. “We have submitted the names twice… this time too, the names would be almost similar. While some have already submitted, others are yet to do it,” said a district president.
“While the party has asked for a list of strong candidates, AICC secretaries will verbally gather information about winnable seats and workers, who can gather crowds…,” he added.
There are 403 seats in the UP Assembly, out of which, Congress had won 28 in the 2012 state polls. However, a large number of its MLAs have quit the party to join BJP, BSP and SP. Sources said the party feels it can win 80 to 90 seats by fielding “appropriate” candidates.
“The district and city heads have been asked to give a panel of names — either three or five — by December 11. As per the current schedule, final selection of candidates will begin from December 15,” said Congress spokesperson Satyadev Tripathi.