First list of Cong candidates likely to be announced today

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Bangalore, Apr 19 (UNI) The first list of Congress candidates for the three-phased Assembly elections in Karnataka next month is expected to be released this evening.

According to party sources, Congress President Sonia Gandhi has almost endorsed the name of 89 candidates shortlisted by the screening committee for the seats which would be held in the first phase of polling on May 10.

As the last date for filing nomination papers is April 23, the delay in announcing the party candidates by the High Command had created resentment among the party workers.

Hosts of Congress leaders, including KPCC President Mallikarjuna Kharge, Election Coordination Committee Chairman S M Krishna, Campaign Committee Chairman Siddaramaiah and former Chief Minister N Dharam Singh, were already camping in New Delhi and helping the party High Command to finalise the list of candidates.

A top party leader said the delay in announcing the Congress list was due to last minute proposal of a poll alliance with Samajwadi Party (SP) while the process of finalising the party list was on.

Party sources, however, said the possibility of a pre-poll alliance with Mulyam Singh-led SP was unlikely to materialse as it0 was demanding more than 30 seats, which was not acceptable to Congress.

Party leaders said the High Command has finalised the list of 89 nominees, who would contest the first phase elections and the list of candidates for the remaining seats would be ready in a couple of days.

The BJP in Karnataka had already announced its candidates for 185 seats and launched its poll campaign ahead of other political parties.

On the other hand, JD(S), another prominent political party in the state was yet to announce its list as it was waiting for the release of Congress list as part of its poll strategy.

The party is expected to accommodate Congress leaders, who fail to get a ticket and turn to JD(S) to contest the elections.

UNI MV ROY AKJ KN1721

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