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Cong begins exercise to finalise candidates for five states

Seeking a third consecutive term in power in Assam, the Congress is expected to field most of its sitting MLAs in the assembly polls.

New Delhi: Seeking a third consecutive
term in power in Assam, the Congress is expected to field most
of its sitting MLAs in the assembly polls.

The party on Saturday started the process of finalising
candidates for the five poll-bound states with the meeting of
Congress Election Committee taking up Assam.

The CEC meeting, headed by Congress President Sonia
Gandhi and attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is
learnt to have finalised the names of most of candidates for
the first phase of poll in the 126-member Assembly.
Assam will have a two-phase polling with the first
phase covering 62 assembly seats on April 4 and the remaining
64 seats on April 11. Counting of votes will take place May

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, leading the state
for last ten years, is expected to have his way in candidate
The CEC meeting comes two days after a meeting of the
party`s screening committee chaired by Union Minister Ghulam
Nabi Azad.

The meeting, which was attended by Gogoi, PCC
president Bhubaneswar Kalita, AICC general secretary in-charge
Digvijay Singh and senior party leader Oscar Fernandes (all
members of the committee), was learnt to have shortlisted
candidates for most of the constituencies.

Congress MPs from the state were also called in for
the meeting and were asked to give inputs about the
winnability of candidates suggested by the state Election

A piquant situation has arisen in the state with UPA
ally Trinamool Congress deciding to field candidates in all
seats with a view to expand its base to North-East, which
could help it in getting national party status. The CEC is
also learnt to have discussed the issue.

Congress leaders have, however, been putting up a
brave face on the issue saying Mamata Banerjee`s party will
end up dividing only the oppoistion votes.

However, another section of the party believes that
Mamata`s party could split Muslim votes there. Moreover an
ally contesting against the lead UPA coalition partner will
unncessary create confusion, a leader said.

The Congress, which is to contest West Bengal
elections in alliance with Trinamool Congress, is seeking
close to 75 out of the 294 seats in the CPI-M ruled state,
while Mamata`s party is ready to give 60 to 65 seats at the

With Congress not quite keen to see Trinamool Congress
contesting in Assam, Mamata could use the card to prevail upon
it to accept lesser number of seats in West Bengal.

The seat-sharing in West Bengal, negotiations for
which are continuing at the highest level in the party, is yet
to be finalised.


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