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Ticket rush pleases Cong

- Rebellion fears slow down candidate finalisation process

Shillong, Dec. 23: The Congress today termed the emergence of several party tickets aspirants for the upcoming Meghalaya Assembly polls as a “good sign” though it is yet to form the crucial screening committee for the elections.

As many as 149 Congressmen and women had taken the application forms for the upcoming polls.

Last month, the Congress’s state election committee declared that there had been a consensus regarding candidates in 46 out of the 60 constituencies for the February-March 2013 polls. The party, however, is yet to decide on the fate of aspirants in the remaining 14 constituencies.

At the same time, there has been intense lobbying among ticket aspirants in some constituencies with hundreds of their supporters making routine visits to meet PCC president D.D. Lapang to ensure that the contenders obtain the crucial ticket.

“This (many aspirants) is a good sign for the party. We are happy, as it shows that the people are confident that the Congress will come back to power in the state,” AICC secretary Sanjay Bapna told The Telegraph over phone.

Bapna said the party’s screening committee, which will go through the list prepared by the PCC and examined by party observers, would be formed soon. “The screening committee will be formed immediately,” he said, while refusing to provide a definite date.

Unlike Meghalaya, the AICC has already formed a screening committee for Tripura, which also goes to the polls around the same period. Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi is heading the screening committee for the Tripura elections.

In the Northeast, apart from Meghalaya and Tripura, Nagaland is the other state going to the polls early next year.

On being asked why the AICC was taking time to form the screening committee for Meghalaya, Bapna said, “Each state has different issues and a different set-up. We have to deal with them separately.”

After the screening committee completes its task, Congress president Sonia Gandhi will give the final stamp of approval on the list of selected candidates from the 60 Assembly seats.

While parties like the United Democratic Party (UDP), National People’s Party (NPP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) have already announced their candidates in some of the 60 constituencies, the Congress has been hesitant to follow suit.

It was reported earlier that the Congress was deliberately delaying announcement of its candidates because it wanted to thwart any form of “rebellion” from those who were denied tickets.

The ruling party allegedly fears that those denied a ticket would wreck the party’s winning chances in some crucial constituencies.

There have also been indications that a few sitting Congress legislators will forfeit their tickets.

The party, which heads the Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) government in the state, is looking at garnering an absolute majority in the Assembly.

In the last elections, the party won in 25 constituencies, mostly in the Khasi-Jaintia hills region. At present, it has 28 legislators.

At least two of its legislators — Friday Lyngdoh and Augustine D. Marak — will not contest the ensuing elections. While Lyngdoh has made way for others, Marak is likely to contest from another political party.