Congress likely to field new faces for J

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Jammu, Oct 21 (UNI) Congress is likely to field new candidates in the ensuing Assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir to overcome the lost public image on the controversial Amarnath land issue, particularly in its stronghold Jammu province, sources said.

Poll panel of the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress committee (JKPCC), in its first meeting at New delhi last evening under the chairmanship of Union Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz, discussed threadbare the strategy for Assembly election in the state starting November 17.

The panel also discussed the criteria to be followed for the selection of party candidates for the Assembly polls. ''Though the chances of candidates victory is the main consideration for getting party ticket, yet the emphasis was laid on having new young faces with clean image for the J&K election,'' Party source told UNI.

The Congress high command, the sources said, was also of same view of preferring ''new face with clean public image'' over the ''tainted party leaders''.

The JKPCC poll panel would meet again at Srinagar on October 24 to finalise names of the candidates to be forwarded to the party high command at New Delhi for approval.

Names of party candidates for the J&K polls are expected to be announced on October 25, sources added.

Congress, which was leading the coalition government with PDP as its partner, has considerably lost its public image after the Amarnath land row in state, particularly in its stronghold Jammu where it had maximum 15 seats of total 20 seats won in last assembly elections.

People in Jammu almost deserted the Congress leaders to follow the agitating conglomerate Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangarsh Samiti (SAYSS) on the controversial issue, which kept boiling for over two months.

Out of total 87 seats in the assembly, Congress had emerged as the second largest party after National Conference with 28 seats in the 2002 poll.

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