New Delhi: The Congress has finalised its third list of candidates for the Uttar Pradesh assembly election due early 2012 at the central election committee (CEC) meeting held on Saturday evening. The names of about 80 candidates have been cleared, bringing the total to around 200 and above.
The CEC meeting was attended among others by party president Sonia Gandhi, prime minister Manmohan Singh, who had retruned from the G20 summit in Cannes on Saturday morning and by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee who returned from Kolkata. Party's media cell chairman and general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said it was a bsuiness-like meeting, where each name was taken up, discussed and decision taken.
He said categorically that no other issue was discussed at the CEC in response to the question whether the issue of price rise as the prime minister was back and the party president was present, especially the hike in pteroleum price and the strong reaction of ally Trinamool Congress (TMC) president and West bengal chef minister Mamata Banerjee.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, UP Congress chief Rita Bahuguna said that it is too early to say which way the wind was blowing. She said there was a lull at the moment and that the situation can be assessed only after campaigning begins.
Bahuguna was quite emphatic that at the moment the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was on fourth and last on the electoral rung because of the corruption charges against the government and the BSP members.
She said that the Congress record of its chief ministers, from Govind Vallabh Pant to Virabhadra Singh in the early 1990s was one of able and extarodinary administrators. There is also the perception that Congress had not been in power for nearly 20 years has also meant that the party image is sufficiently clean.
She confirmed that party general secretary and star campaigner Rahul Gandhi will kick off the campaign with a rally at Phulpur, the constituency that his great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru had contested from. Sonia Gandhi will address divisional headquarters rallies from December onwards.
She said that she did not know about the alliance with Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) of Ajit Singh as she was not dealing with the issue.