India

Gujarat polls: Congress still in talks, list may take a day or two

The Congress has finalised its list of candidates for the Gujarat elections, but is waiting to hear from potential allies before making it public.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi presided over a meeting of the central election committee on Friday, and discussed possible contenders for all the 112 seats that were not discussed by the panel last week.

“Our discussions on almost all seats are over but since we are in talks with the JD(U) and NCP, it may take one or two days to come out with a list of candidates,” said Ashok Gehlot, the former Chief Minister of Rajasthan, who is now handling the Congress strategy in Gujarat.

Mr. Gehlot said they were talking to JD(U) rebel leader Sharad Yadav to negotiate with the Gujarat party leader Chotu Bhai Vasava who had gone against the party line to vote for Congress’s Ahmed Patel in the August Rajya Sabha polls.

Banking on many groups

Despite differences with Sharad Pawar’s National Congress Party (NCP), the Congress is in talks with it to avoid a split in the anti-BJP votes.

Putting up its strongest challenge to the ruling BJP to cash in on the anti-incumbency and the anger among influential traders over the GST, the Congress is also banking on a rainbow coalition of different castes like Patidars, OBCs and Dalits to take on the BJP.

On Friday, four members of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, led by Hardik Patel, met with former Law Minister Kapil Sibal and Mr. Ahmed Patel in Delhi to discuss a possible strategy to fulfil their demands for reservation for Patels without disturbing the existing groups that had quotas in jobs and education.

OBC leader Alpesh Thakur, who insisted that the existing quotas should not be disturbed, had already joined the Congress. Sources say that though the party had finalised names for 70 seats on November 10, it did not announce them as it wanted to see the BJP list before sealing its own.

Sources told The Hindu that apart from accommodating the interests of various castes, the focus would be on youth and nearly 50 candidates could be in the age group of 35 to 50. “We don’t want to be identified as a party of this group or that but as someone who can take along everyone,” a Congress leader said.

Source: India News

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