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Cong candidate list likely next week

Shillong, Dec. 28: The AICC-mandated screening committee is likely to finalise Congress candidates for the 2013 Meghalaya Assembly elections in the first week of January.

The Ambika Soni-led committee, which was constituted on Monday, met for the first time in New Delhi today. “Since it was the first meeting, nothing could be finalised. Committee members apprised Soni of issues and events related to the elections and ticket disbursement,” a senior Congress leader said.

Besides Soni, the other members present were Meghalaya PCC chief D.D. Lapang, chief minister Mukul Sangma and AICC general secretary in-charge of Meghalaya, Dhaniram Shandil. AICC spokesperson P.C. Chacko, who is also a committee member, could not attend the meeting.

The tickets are likely to be finalised at the committee’s next meeting, either on January 3 or 4, the Congress leader said. “Once the committee finalises the candidates, the list will be sent to AICC president Sonia Gandhi for her approval,” he added.

The presence of too many aspirants in some of the crucial constituencies has put the Congress in a quandary. Moreover, prominent Congress leaders are reportedly trying hard to ensure tickets for their “preferred” candidates in both Khasi-Jaintia and Garo hills.

“Soni will have to ensure that the party’s chances in the elections are not compromised. Some party leaders are trying hard to get tickets for their own choice of candidates. This is happening in both Khasi- Jaintia and Garo hills. Being a seasoned Congress leader, Soni’s political wisdom will definitely come under test,” a state Congress leader said.

The state election committee had last month cleared the names of candidates in 46 of the 60 Assembly constituencies.

Names of candidates for the remaining seats were kept in abeyance.

The Congress, which heads the Meghalaya United Alliance government, is looking at garnering an absolute majority in the Assembly elections. In the last elections held in 2008, the party won in 25 constituencies, mostly in the Khasi-Jaintia hills. At present, it has 28 legislators.