Congress finalises candidates for 80-90 Lok Sabha seats

New Delhi, Mar 7: Congress has finalized candidates for 80 to 90 Lok Sabha seats including for several sitting members like Speaker Meira Kumar, Union Minister Manish Tewari, Deepender Hooda, Naveen Jindal and Shruti Chowdhary.

Senior leader Pawan Kumar Bansal is also likely to get the ticket, though a final decision is yet to be taken.

The party has also decided on nominees for 10 of the 12 Lok Sabha seats it is contesting in Bihar in alliance with Lalu Prasad’s RJD, sources said.

While there has not been much of a discussion on seats in Punjab, candidates for six-seven seats in Haryana have been finalized.

In Sonipat, Congress has changed its candidate.

In Bihar, candidates whose names were undersood to have been finalized include former MP Ranjeet Ranjan for Supaul, Nikhil Kumar for Aurangabad, former CLP leader Ashok Ram for Samastipur, Akhilesh Singh for Muzaffarpur, Raj Kumar Rajan in Patna Sahib, Amarnath Tiwari from Purnea and Pratibha Devi from Hajipur, the sources said.

Besides, sitting MPs Meira Kumar and Asrarul Haque have been repeated on their Sasaram and Kishanganj seats. A decision on candidates for Nalanda and Valmiki Nagar seats is pending.

The party is also expected to renominate several of its members from Maharashtra including Union Ministers like Sushilkumar Shinde and Prateek Patil, Milind Deora, AICC general secretary Gurudas Kamat and AICC secretary Priya Dutt.

In a CEC meeting held on Tuesday, the party had discussed candidates for seats in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh.

Jaya Prada is likely to be named a candidate from Moradabad. Union Ministers hailing from UP Salman Khurshid, Beni Prasad Verma, Sriprakash Jaiswal, Jitin Prasad and R P N Singh are set to be re-nominated.

In Madhya Pradesh, Union Ministers Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia will get renominations from Chhindwara and Guna respectively.

The party has already given indications that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi will contest from their pocketboroughs Raebareli and Amethi respectively.

Since Narendra Modi has not announced his constituency, Congress is yet to take a call on whom to field him against the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate.The party has to take a call on whether to field newly-appointed PCC chiefs like Sachin Pilot, Arun Yadav, Ashok Tanwar or not.

The party has decided not to field any candidate facing grave criminal charges.

The party had earlier decided to declare the first list of candidates by the first week of February.

Early finalisation of candidates for elections was a key recommendation of the A K Antony Committee, which Rahul is keen to implement in the general elections.

Party leaders have been maintaining that the nominations for those seats will be finalised early which are at present not with Congress. The party had won 206 seats in the last Lok Sabha polls.

Candidate selection process has been fast tracked this time unlike in recent decades when the nominees were finalised at the last minute. The idea was to ensure that candidates get least two months’ time to prepare for the elections.

In the first CEC meeting, a number of seats in many states including 20-odd in Uttar Pradesh, several in Bihar, Karnataka, Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh as also in Himachal Pradesh and some northeastern states were taken up for finalisation. Discussion had taken place for over 100 seats that time.