Despite the burden of three-time anti-incumbency,the Congress on Monday released a list of 56 nominees for the Delhi Assembly elections on December 4 that includes 41 of 42 sitting MLAs.
The Central Election Committee (CEC) of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) also cleared nominees for 14 seats the party lost in 2008,which include office bearers from the PCC and youth congress,former MLAs and even municipal councillors.
Party sources said the list reflected the partys poll strategy of presenting a comfort factor. Several MLAs have won at least three elections in a row,including Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and members of the Delhi Cabinet,and we are confident of the publics support for us, a senior leader said.
Senior leaders in the party also said the AICC had played it safe in the first list to ensure no immediate rebellion,as seen in the BJP over the last few days. Other than the sitting MLAs,14 seats were declared. This list includes fresh faces,youth congress leaders,ex-MLAs,councillors and Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) office bearers. Everybody has found representation, a DPCC functionary said.
Those given tickets include Delhi Youth Congress President Amit Malik from Kirari,DPCC treasurer Madan Khorewal from Karol Bagh,PCC block presidents Sushil Gupta and Surender Kumar Setia from Moti Nagar and Hari Nagar and councillors Balzor Singh and Zakir Khan from Gokalpur and Babarpur.
However,the party has had to face protests from within over tickets given to at least 12 MLAs,including two Cabinet minister. There are some issues,but now that the list has been declared,the cadre will rally behind the candidate, a leader said.
These MLAs included Cabinet ministers Kiran Walia and Ramakant Goswami and MLAs Naresh Pal Gangwal,Rajesh Lilothia,Balram Tanwar and Harishankar Gupta.
Barring Dayanand Chandila,MLA from Rajouri Garden,the Congress chose to repeat all MLAs including Ram Singh Netaji,who moved from the BSP recently.
No replacement has been named from the Rajouri Garden seat in the first list. There were problems with MLAs facing serious charges. So we have not declared this seat, a leader said.
However,the nomination of Mohammed Asif Khan from Okhla,who jumped ship to the Congress from the RJD,has raised eyebrows. On one hand,tickets were denied to those who faced serious charges. But Khan,who possibly faces the most charges,was given a ticket from Okhla, a senior leader said.
The absence of a purvanchal candidate in the first list also has several purvanchali leaders fuming. The BJP has given tickets to five purvanchal candidates,but there is not even one in this list. Let us hope the second list will include some names from the largest electorate in Delhi, a senior party leader said.