GANDHINAGAR : The Congress party's central election committee is likely to meet on Friday to finalise the list of candidates for the Gujarat Assembly elections. The meeting in New Delhi will be chaired by All India Congress Committee (AICC) President Sonia Gandhi, where top party leaders, including from the poll-bound state, are likely to attend.
The Congress will be fielding candidates in all the 89 constituencies of the first phase of elections, to be held on December 9. Around 100 candidates which have been selected by the scrutiny panel are likely to be finalized for the first phase initially, according to sources.
The meeting will be attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Rajya Sabha MP Ahmed Patel. Senior party leaders from Gujarat, like Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) President Bharatsinh Solanki and Gujarat in-charge for elections, Ashok Gehlot, have already reached Delhi for the meeting. Other senior leaders like Siddharth Patel, Shaktisinh Gohil and Arjun Modhwadia are likely to attend.
The list of candidates will be finalized and the candidates will be instructed to start their preparations for the contest, but they won't be publicly declared till two or three days prior to the day of nomination, the sources said.
Earlier, just after the Rajya Sabha seat elections for Gujarat in August, the grand old party had announced that as a reward to loyal MLAs who did not give in to the massive allurements and temptations by the BJP, all the sitting MLAs will be given tickets to contest the assembly elections.
It will be interesting to see which candidates are likely to be given the chance as the party is also in talks with Hardik Patel, leader of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) who has been agitating against the BJP government, demanding reservation status for his Patel community for about two-and-a half years.
Congress senior leader Kapil Sibal has assured the Patidar community a reservation status on a constitutional basis, if the party comes to power in Gujarat. The leaders had brief discussions late night on Wednesday and the talks are still in progress. Now the ball is in Hardik Patel's court as they will deliberate on the offer by the Congress and discuss it with his community's leaders and institutions.
The state elections are on the radar of national politics as it is the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also BJP national President Amit Shah. The BJP government is under heavy pressure to retain power under the anti-incumbency it has been facing in the form of agitations by various communities in recent times.
The Gujarat elections will be held in two phases on December 9 and 14 and the results will be declared on December 18.