Sonia Gandhi chairs first meet on Punjab candidates

AAP has so far declared 91 candidates and Akalis have declared around 65 for the state.

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New Delhi, Dec 3: The all-powerful Congress Election Committee met on Saturday to take stock of the Punjab elections and commence the task of finalising candidates for the 2017 state elections.

Chaired by Congress President Sonia Gandhi and comprising party vice president Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the committee held a one hour meeting to assess the current political landscape and devise suitable plans to counter Aam Aadmi Party and the ruling combine of Akali-BJP.

Sonia chairs meeting on candidates

Congress sources said the panel did not discuss specific seat situation in the state which has 117 assembly segments and will meet again on December 8 to start those specific discussions.

The Election Commission is yet to notify polls in Punjab with a section of the Congress leaders of the view that hasty ticket allocation should not be done. AAP has so far declared 91 candidates and Akalis have declared around 65.

Congress is yet to start the work although the state screening committee headed by former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has done the short listing and sent panels in each seat to the CEC for a final decision.

The CEC is also learnt to have discussed the recent entries to Congress including that of Pargat Singh and Navjot Kaur Sidhu and how conflicting interests within the Congress would need to be balanced to accommodate these people.

At least 10 seats in Punjab are single applicant seats including Patiala where Punjab Congress President Capt Amarinder Singh will be contesting.

Sitting Patiala MLA and Amarinder's wife Preneet Kaur will vacate the seat for him. From Lehra in Sangrur Lok Sabha segment, the sole applicant is sitting MLA and ex Punjab CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

From Abohar ex CLP leader Sunil Jakhar is the only candidate. A leader said single applicant seats would in normal course get cleared as such. Candidates will now be discussed on December 8.

PTI

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