Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Feb 17:
Even as the Central Election Committee (CEC) of the Congress is deliberating on finalization of party candidates for the 21 Lok Sabha candidates in the state in the national capital, the Pradesh Election Committee (PEC) would meet on February 22 to shortlist possible candidates for the 147 Assembly constituencies.
According to party sources, more than a thousand party members have applied for party tickets for the 147 Assembly constituencies in the upcoming elections in the state.
Concerned over infighting, which cost the Congress dear in the elections in 2009 bringing its tally down to only 27 seats in the Assembly, the party leadership hopes to address the problem by striking a balance between various factions while distributing tickets for the upcoming polls.
“Infighting is a concern in the state since many leaders are aspirants for the Assembly constituencies going to poll in April/May. Since there are three-four factions in the party, finalizing candidates and distributing tickets will be a tough task for the leadership,” said a senior leader of the Congress.
During his recent trip to the state, AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi had asked party leaders to bury their differences and put up a united fight against the ruling BJD in the ensuing elections. He hopes to tackle the problem during ticket distribution to ensure that various factions are taken care of, said the senior Congress leader.
Party sources said Rahul has been reiterating the need to curb infighting within the party during his interactions with state leaders over the past weeks, but there has been little impact on the ground.
Party sources confirmed that Scrutiny Committee Chairman Oscar Fernandes will visit Odisha on February 22 to attend the PEC meeting while party in-charge of Odisha B K Hariprasad will also attend the meeting to finalise the candidates.
“Even though Fernandes will hold a separate meeting of the screening committee in New Delhi, he will come here to observe the candidate selection process of the PEC so that the eligible candidate are not deprived of tickets because of factionalism,” said sources.
PCC president Jaydev Jena said the meeting will be extended to February 23 if the process is not over in a day. He said that the names of candidates will be announced by the end of February or first week of March.