The panels have been announced with the election notification as the guiding principal, which is likely to be out by the middle of March. The decision might sound hasty, especially when the electoral process has not yet been announced. However, the party wanted to ensure its preparedness, irrespective of that, which led to such an early announcement.
There are several other reasons though. One being the party's accumulated anti-incumbancy over a decade; secondly, Rahul Gandhi had suggested an early selection of candidates; and if they do so, they would be adhereing to the instructions of a party panel, which suggested that Lok Sabha candidates should be elected 3 months earlier so that they get enough time for campaigning.
The AICC general secretary in-charge of the state, the legislative party leader and state unit chiefs are the ones who would comprise the panels. Some of the names that have come to the fore include Jitendra Singh, the Union Sports minister and a key Rahul aide who will be heading the UP panel. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is likely to head the panels of Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Here comes an interesting twist, where the Congress goes out of its way to nominate a minister who had to resign on corruption charges. Pawan Bansal, who resigned as the Rail minister after a corruption charge, is likely to head the panels in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. P C Chacko, on the other hand is likely to be on the panel of Delhi.
As mentioned in a Times of India report, the panels are likely to meet soon after the AICC meeting on Januray 17.