New Delhi: Aiming to come to power in Uttar
Pradesh after nearly two decades, Congress has decided to
finalise the candidates for the Assembly elections a year
ahead of the polls scheduled in early 2012.
Congress sources involved with the affairs in the key
state said this was the first time the party will be
announcing its candidates a year in advance to give them
sufficient time for poll preparations in the Mayawati-ruled
AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh said the "poll
process has already begun" in the state with the party
appointing 10 observers. Each observer will be made in-charge
of at least 40 Assembly constituencies.
"We will contest all the 403 seats in the state. The
names of candidates would be announced much in advance, which
would give them time to organise themselves and fight the
election with greater focus," Singh said.
Sources said that efforts are on to persuade the Ajit
singh-led RLD to merge with the Congress before the Assembly
elections as it will give the party a strong footing in
Western Uttar Pradesh.
RLD had supported Congress candidate Satish Sharma in
the Rajya Sabha elections from the state.
There were speculations that Ajit Singh`s party was not
very keen on merger but wanted an alliance with the Congress.
Some reports also claimed that Singh could join the Union
Cabinet as a quid pro quo for supporting Sharma`s candidature.
Top sources in the Congress, however, said there was no
question of alliance but a merger could take place if Singh
Congress is on a revival mode in UP, from where two of
its top leaders contest elections - party President Sonia
Gandhi from Rae Bareli and Rahul Gandhi from Amethi.
In the last Lok Sabha elections, the party won an
impressive 22 seats, giving two of its main rivals SP and the
BSP jitters ahead of the Assembly polls.
To gain a foothold in this region, Rahul Gandhi too is
going ahead with his "Mission 2012" by democratising the
Indian Youth Congress.
In the membership drive, Congress managed to enrol 57
lakh members, which was way ahead of its 34 lakh members in
the last such drive.
"Congress is on a roller coaster ride in the state. It
is getting tremendous response," a senior party leader.