Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): As the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and debutant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have declared their first list of candidates for the year end assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh even before the Election Commission of India has announce the date for polling, now all eyes are on the Congress.
The Congress led by its two veteran leaders, Rajya Sabha MP Digvijaya Singh and state unit chief Kamal Nath, who had started their exercise to pick the most suitable and winnable candidates for each assembly constituency three months back, are unlikely to reveal their cards until the 'code of conduct' is imposed. Sources in the Congress said the state leadership has almost prepared a list of at least 150 candidates for a total 230 assembly seats in the state, including sitting MLAs.
However, the Congress apparently has strategized to put itself in a 'wait and watch' position due to various reasons. A Congress leader said the state leadership perhaps made up its mind not to declare the candidates much before the election date was announced to avoid last minute glitches. "Delay in declaring candidates is also to maintain an amicable atmosphere among the ticket aspirants, especially where more than three contenders are vying for tickets. Digvijaya Singh and some other senior leaders have been tasked to ensure that a situation does not arise like it did in the BJP," a Congress leader told IANS on condition of anonymity. Another Congress leader said the state leadership was delaying releasing the list to keep its candidates out of the BJP 's clutches.
"The BJP is panicking and it may use its power to frame Congress candidates on fake charges to defame the party and also to set a narrative ahead of the voting. In 2018, the Congress had announced all its candidates in four different lists and all the candidates were announced only after the code of conduct kicked in," he said.
A long queue of ticket aspirants can be seen at the party headquarters and also at Kamal Nath's residence in Shyamla Hills and they are hopeful that their applications would be taken seriously and they would be given a chance to contest the polls. Around 5,000 bio-datas have been collected by the Congress screening committee chairman Bhanwar Jitendra Singh and central election committee member Ajay Kumar Lallu for the assembly elections. Kamal Nath has repeatedly said that the candidates identified for particular seats have been told about it and "there is no need to publicly announce their names."
In 2018, the Congress had won 114 seats and formed the government, but its 22 MLAs loyal to Jyotiraditya Scindia left the party, resulting in the collapse of the Kamal Nath government in March 2020 and the BJP returned to power after just 15 months.