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Rahul: Reflecting the “voice of people” in Congress

Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi today promised early declaration of candidates for Lok Sabha polls under a “new process” reflecting the “voice of people” in Congress…

New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi today promised early declaration of candidates for Lok Sabha polls under a “new process” reflecting the “voice of people” in Congress.

“We are taking the decision about giving tickets in a new way, under a new process.

“Discussions on it about various states have been taking place within our party for a long time. We are doing this with a formal structure,” the Congress Vice President told reporters before holding consultations with newly-appointed Chairman of Screening Committees for all states and UTs.

He said all tickets will be finalised at the national level “very soon for first time as far as deadline is concerned”.

“The thinking is that we bring a process and system in the party and bring in the voice of people in the political party systematically. That is why this meeting is there,” he added.

In a major exercise ahead of Lok Sabha polls, Congress had last night constituted screening committees for all states and Union Territories for early selection of candidates.

In the first meeting of the Chairmen of these screening committees, Gandhi today underlined the importance of giving weightage to common people in decision making in political processes including deciding candidates.

He is learnt to have impressed upon the broad parameters of candidate selection like no criminal record against them and an experience of right kind of politics along with winnability.

Sources in the party had indicated that the meetings of the screening committees to select candidates will begin soon after the January 17 AICC meeting in Delhi, where the party could name Rahul Gandhi as its prime ministerial candidate.

With Rahul keen on early declaration of candidates for Lok Sabha polls, the party is understood to have decided to come out with a list of 150 to 200 nominees by the end of this month.

Lok Sabha elections are likely to be held in April-May and the decision will give at least three months time to the candidates to prepare for the elections.

The exercise is also in line with the recommendation of the A K Antony panel entrusted with the task of drawing up an action plan for the party for assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

It had recommended that the candidates should be declared at least a few months ahead of the elections.

The AICC general secretary incharge of all the states were also present at the meeting.

It was decided to prepare a schedule for the meetings of the screening committees and shortlisting of candidates.

The sources said the process of candidate selection at the level of Pradesh Election Committee is already on and once they send the list to the screening committee, the shortlisting will done here.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde heads the panel for Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and Andaman Nicobar.

Congress MP and spokesperson P C Chacko heads the panel for Delhi, Chandigarh, Haryana and Punjab.

Bhubaneshwar Kalita is the chairman of the screening committee for Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir and V Narayanasamy for Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura.

Mallikarjun Kharge is Chairman the Screening Committee for Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Mumbai while Vayalar Ravi heads the panel for Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Karnataka, Ghulam Nabi Azad for Kerala, Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu.

Oscar Fernandes has been made Chairman for the panel in Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

Pawan Kumar Bansal, who had to resign from the Railway Ministry last year after a corruption controversy, is back with a larger role in the party heading the screening committees for crucial states Gujarat and Rajasthan along with Dadar Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.

Rahul’s close aide Jitendra Singh is the screening committee in-charge of electorally crucial Uttar Pradesh.

All the screening committees have five members including AICC general secretary in-charge of the state, PCC chief and CLP leader and one more member.

Rahul’s close aide Meenakshi Natarajan has been included as member for the panel in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha.

Avinash Pandey has been made a member in the panel for UP, where there are 80 Lok Sabha seats.

Manick Tagore, another Rahul pick, finds place in the panel for Assam, Andaman Nicobar, Bihar and West Bengal while Paresh Dhanani has been included in the committee for Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Mumbai.

“We will be deciding candidates for much more than 100 Lok Sabha seats by the end of January,” an AICC functionary closely associated with the exercise has said.

The leader said it was not that every sitting MP will get a ticket indicating that there is a feeling in the party that not repeating some of candidates can help it tide over the anti-incumbency against the 10-year-old UPA government.

The leader said the party will finalise candidates for seats in Congress quota in states where there are alliances arguing that even if the seats are exchanged among the allies at a later stage, the names of candidates should be decided earlier.


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