A party screening panel met in Delhi and candidates’ names were discussed.

 

The first list of 130-plus Congress candidates for the upcoming elections in Madhya Pradesh will be declared next week after the “pitra-paksh” period, which is considered inauspicious, ends on 9 October.

Earlier this week, a meeting of the Congress screening committee, comprising party leaders that included committee chairman Madhusudan Mistry, state Congress president Kamal Nath, Leader of the Opposition Ajay Singh and state in-charge Deepak Babaria, was held in Delhi where the names of the probable candidates were discussed.

Sources aware of the development said that at least 45 names, majority of whom are sitting party MLAs, have been finalised. Apart from this, 15 other names, who had lost in the last election by fewer than 2,500-3,000 votes, are said to have been given another chance.

“Names suggested by the party’s state election committee and those that have come up on the basis of the surveys done by two private agencies are being deliberated upon. Those names which are common to these three criteria are automatically being finalised. Of the rest, the party will decide after deliberations with the state leaders,” a Delhi-based party functionary said.

However, at least four probables based in Madhya Pradesh, who spoke to The Sunday Guardian, questioned the genuineness of these surveys which the Congress high command is so heavily banking on.

According to one of them, he did not even come to know when the surveyors came and went and whom they spoke to while “surveying” his seat.

“I literally know every prominent voice of my city and I speak to the common people every day. None of them has been contacted by any surveyor or questioned about my credentials. I came across one surveyor accidentally while I was in Delhi. When I asked him about the areas that he had visited in my constituency, without disclosing to him that I was an aspirant, he said that he had not even visited my constituency. And he is the person who has prepared the survey report on who is the best candidate. How can you trust such surveys?” he said.

Many ticket-seekers confided to this newspaper that these surveys have been carried out by agencies that are based in Gujarat and Karnataka and the inputs of a particular Congress leader would be vital to decide on who will get the ticket.

Apart from private surveys, top officers working in the intelligence department of the state police are also very busy these days as they are getting frequent calls from both the BJP and Congress leaders seeking their inputs on who would win in which seat.

Congress’ first list, according to party leaders, was supposed to come out last month, but they were held up because of the talks with BSP. “Now, with the BSP out of the picture, the task has become easier. We had this feeling that the BSP was working on a script as it was demanding those seats where its performance has been dismal in the last few elections, but not those seats where it has performed satisfactorily,” a party functionary said.

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