With the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) taking the lead in announcing their candidates for the next Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has also swung into action initiating the process of identifying candidates for all 543 seats.
The Congress plans to finalise the candidates by June next year in a clear indication of its plan to be battle-ready in the event of early elections.
Although many BJP leaders have predicted early Lok Sabha polls, the Opposition party’s poll preparations seem to be confined to Uttar Pradesh for now. The state BJP unit is preparing a three-member panel of potential candidates for each of the 80 seats in the state and plans to send the list to the Central leadership by the end of this year. The SP and the BSP have declared 63 and 76 candidates respectively in UP.
Ruling out the possibility of early polls, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh, who is part of the party’s Election Coordination Committee, maintained that the latest exercise to finalise candidates much ahead of the 2014 polls is “as per AK Antony Committee recommendations”.
The Congress has already deployed 55 observers across the country — one each for 10 seats — to identify potential candidates and submit a three-member panel for each seat to the All India Congress Committee (AICC). The Pradesh Congress Committees (PCCs) will send separate lists of candidates and the party’s Screening Committee would consider both recommendations while finalising the candidates.
Asked whether finalising candidates so early is in preparation for early polls, Digvijaya Singh told The Indian Express, “They have been sent to identify candidates and to get a general feedback from each constituency. The proposal is to finalise all candidates by June. But, no, there are no early elections.”
These assertions notwithstanding, ruling party strategists are not unmindful of the possibility of early elections as they are not sure whether allies like Samajwadi Party would stay the course till 2014. Congress sources were of the view that while the BSP may not want early elections, the SP may be inclined to ride on the momentum gained in the UP Assembly elections early this year and go to polls before anti-incumbency against Akhilesh Yadav government starts setting in.
“No MP from any party wants elections now but they would not mind going to polls, say, six months ahead of the schedule. One needs to be