The screening committee of the Congress has approved the names of 40 sitting MLAs for tickets for the upcoming Delhi Assembly elections.

The committee met on Monday to prepare the first docket of names to be submitted to the party’s central election committee headed by president Sonia Gandhi. The committee, however, did not discuss the names of three candidates who are facing criminal charges.

Party sources said there was a “consensus” on most of the 40 names that have been put in the first docket. The names were presented to the 13-member central election committee on Monday.

It is yet to take a final call on these names. Party sources said it is not essential that all 40 candidates be given tickets as there has been some opposition to repeating about 10 of these candidates.

Meanwhile, the screening committee is scheduled to meet again before Diwali, most likely on Wednesday, to discuss the remaining names.

The committee comprises of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president J. P. Agarwal, panel head V. Narayanaswamy, Member of Parliament Bhubaneshwar Kalita, All-India Congress Committee general secretary in-charge of Delhi Shakeel Ahmed and AICC secretary in-charge Kuldip Nagra.

A senior leader said the names of the three sitting MLAs — Jaswant Rana of Narela, Dayanand Chandela of Rajouri Garden and Mohammad Asif of Okhla — who had joined the Congress a few months ago, would be discussed separately.

Apart from this, the screening committee would also discuss the names of the remaining 27 candidates.

The panel had earlier decided that it would not consider candidates from outside constituencies for tickets, unless they were celebrities. Likewise, the party had decided that those who had earlier lost Assembly or municipal elections twice or by a margin of over 10,000 would not be considered for party tickets.

The Congress is laying a lot of emphasis on the track record of ticket aspirants and has made it clear that those with criminal records would be denied tickets.

The party hardened its stance on the issue after vice-president Rahul Gandhi took on the government over the ordinance that was being brought to provide relief to elected representatives convicted in criminal cases.

Party sources said efforts are being made to prepare another docket — comprising up to five shortlisted names — before Diwali so the central election committee can take them up soon after the festival. It is only then that the Congress is expected to announce its list of candidates.

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