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Congress Gives Head Start To At Least 50 Candidates For UP Polls?

Party insiders claim at least 50 to 60 candidates have been told verbally to begin preparation for elections

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<div class="paragraphs"><p>Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi will be in Lucknow on a two-day visit from Friday</p></div>
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To fine tune Congress' preparation in the run up to the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh next year, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi will be in Lucknow on a two-day visit from Friday. She will be holding meetings with the state election committee and advisory committee, reviewing the ongoing preparation and chalk out strategy for the elections next year.

The party is expected to kick start its official election campaign from October 2 next month. Party insiders claim mega rally will be organized in the state capital with Priyanka Gandhi and other senior Congress leaders in attendance.

Meanwhile, party sources indicate preparations are on war footing and the top party leadership has given "head start" to at least 50-55 candidates without screening. With six months to go, they have been directed to begin preparation in their respective constituencies.

Senior leaders, former and current MLAs given preference

Senior party leaders including State president Ajay Kumar Lallu denied any such list of candidates who have been given a "go ahead". Senior leader Nasimuddin Siddiqui who is a part of the state's screening committee of more than 35 members of the state and central leadership said the committee is yet to meet and top leadership will take a final call on selection of candidates.

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However party insiders, privy to the development, claim at least 50 to 60 candidates have been told verbally to begin preparation for elections. These candidates include senior leaders, existing and former MLAs and runner up candidates of the previous assembly elections. This decision of the party seems to be in line with its strategy of deploying bulk of its energy and resources in a select number of seats where it has a significant influence.

Another party insider on the condition of anonymity divulged certain names which includes party state president Ajay Lallu, his deputy Lalitesh Pati Tripathi, former MLA from Marihan, Mirzapur; MLA Aradhana Mishra, former MLA Anugrah Narayan Singh and Louise Khurshid, wife of senior leader Salman Khurshid and former MLA Imran Masood.

Other possible names include MLAs Naresh Saini, Masood Akhtar, Sohail Akhtar Ansari and Rakesh Singh who are among the seven candidates who won last time. Some candidates from constituencies where the party is not expecting multiple candidatures have also been given go ahead.

Congress ruling out talks of alliance

Rubbishing speculations of alliance with Samajwadi Party (SP), senior party leaders in Congress claim that they will fight on all 403 assembly seats in the state and there is no alliance talks on the table. Samajwadi party chief Akhilesh Yadav, in an interview, had ruled out alliance with bigger parties claiming they demand more seats and win on few. He is, however, open to alliance with smaller parties in the state.

SP-Congress had fought in alliance in the last assembly elections in the state in 2017. After having bargained 114 seats, Congress managed to win only seven seats. SP's performance in the alliance was tad better as it managed to win 47 seats out of 311 it contested.

In 2022, SP and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) might contest in alliance with other smaller parties in the state. Akhilesh Yadav has recently extended an olive branch to his uncle Shivpal Yadav hinting at alliance or tacit understanding with Shivpal's Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (PSP). Meeting between Akhilesh and Sanjay Singh of Aam Aadmi Party in July this year had sparked alliance buzz though no official announcement has been made.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Edited By :Padmashree Pande
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