New Delhi: Beginning the candidate selection exercise for poll-bound Haryana, Congress on Monday laid down the criteria for the same as it looks to beat a 10-year anti-incumbency factor in the state.
Discussing the matter, sources said that those who have lost two elections on the trot would be kept out of the poll fray while even sitting MLAs facing strong anti-incumbency would be denied tickets. Neither would the party field any candidate with established criminal antecedents.
At a meeting of the Pradesh Election Committee (PEC) chaired by the AICC general secretary in-charge for Haryana, Shakeel Ahmed, Congress decided on half-a-dozen points as part of its criteria list for picking candidates for one of the toughest electoral battles it is facing in the state.
Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, PCC Chief Ashok Tanwar, former Union Minister Kumari Selja and Screening Committee Chairperson PC Chacko were among those who attended the meeting along with Ajay Yadav, the chairman of its campaign committee for the state and its co-chairperson Kiran Chaudhary.
A total of 1,022 candidates have applied for Congress tickets for contesting the 90 Assembly seats in the state.
PEC has been directed to send a maximum of five names to the Screening Committee, which will shortlist a maximum of three for each constituency based on which the Central Election Committee chaired by party president Sonia Gandhi will take a final call.
While the Screening Committee meeting will take place from August 1 to August 3, the CEC meeting is likely to be held on August 4. Different surveys done by the party at the state level and also by central observers would be taken into account while picking candidates.
While INLD has already released two lists of candidates, Congress began the exercise today.
Congress had on Saturday appointed Ajay Yadav, an OBC face, as the chairman of its campaign committee while Naveen Jindal was named chairman of its publicity committee in an exercise aimed at balancing social equations and various groups within the faction-ridden state unit.
Haryana will be the first among the four states where Assembly elections are going to be held this year.
A number of Congress leaders in Haryana have left the party and joined BJP or INLD in the last few months, notable among them being Chaudhary Birender Singh and Avtar Singh Bhadana.
Rao Inderjit Singh quit the party before the Lok Sabha polls and is a now BJP minister in the Narendra Modi Cabinet.