NEW DELHI : Ten screening committees constituted on Thursday night by the Congress for selection of candidates for the Lok Sabha elections do not include three general secretaries – C P Joshi, Mohan Prakash and Ajay Maken – who had headed the screening bodies for the four state assembly elections, indicating the party leadership’s distrust in them for botching up the selection.
Instead, the old guards in their 60s and 70s have been given the responsibility to decide the candidates, with the exception of Minister of State for Defence, Jitendra Singh, the 42-year old Alwar MP from Rajasthan and a close aide of Rahul Gandhi, who has been assigned the task of short-listing the candidates for the most crucial Uttar Pradesh that sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha. Attached to him is another Rahul confidante AICC secretary Avinash Pande, Rajya Sabha MP from Maharashtra.
A Rahul Gandhi stamp is evident in the panels with his confidants not as heads but as members on every panel, who are invariably the AICC secretaries. Union ministers head seven panels.
The screening panels consist of their chairmen and one nominated member, in addition to the PCC presidents, CLP leaders and the in-charge AICC general secretaries.
These panels will scrutinise the shortlisted aspirants and give the recommendations for the final selection by the central election committee headed by Sonia Gandhi.
A Rahul Gandhi stamp is evident in the panels with his confidantes not as heads but as members on every panel, who are invariably the AICC secretaries. Union ministers head seven panels. Six heads are members of the Lok Sabha and four the Rajya Sabha MPs.
Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge (71) heads the panel for Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Mumbai, with Rahul confidante Paresh Chanani as a member, while former Railway Minister Pawan Bansal(65), sidelined after his nephew taking bribe for appointment of a railway board member, is back in the reckoning as the head of the panel for Rajasthan, Gujarat, Dadra Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, with AICC secretary Kuljeet Nagra from Punjab as a member.
Union NRI Minister Vayalar Ravi (76) heads the panel for selection of candidates from Goa, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, with Odisha’s Kalahandi MP Bhakta Charan Das as its member.
Kerala MP P C Chacko(68) heads the crucial panel that will shortlist the candidates for three states of Delhi, Haryana and Punjab as also Chandigarh union territory, with AICC secretary Deepak Babaria from Gujarat as its member.
Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad (64) heads the panel for Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala and Lakshadweep, with Subhankar Sarkar from Kolkata as a member. Transport Minister Oscar Fernandes heads the panel for Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha, with Madhya Pradesh MP Meenakshi Natarajan as its member.
Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde (72) heads the panel for West Bengal, Bihar, Assam and Andaman Nicobar that together sent 97 MPs to the Lok Sabha while the panel’s member is Tamil Nadu MP Manicka Tagore. Minister of State V Narayanasamy heads the panel for the remaining six northeastern states and Sikkim with AICC secretary Dr G Chinana Reddy as its member.
Assam PCC chief and Rajya Sabha MP Bhubaneswar Kalita(62) heads the panel for Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, with AICC secretary Harish Chaudhary, 43-year old MP from Barmer in Rajasthan.