First list of candidates to be announced on March 28

Notwithstanding the Telangana Congress leaders’ confidence that the party would reap it rich in the coming elections, the Congress election screening committee has commenced an exercise to assess the ground situation in the region.

The meeting is a precursor to finalising the list of candidates for 119 Assembly seats and 17 Lok Sabha seats. The Pradesh Election Committee submitted a list of aspirants to the screening committee. The first list of candidates is expected to be announced by March 28 as filing of nominations will begin on April 2, according to sources.

The three-member committee comprising AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh, secretary R.C. Khuntia and headed by Union Minister Vayalar Ravi, which met in Delhi on Saturday, held a one-to-one meeting with 10 Lok Sabha MPs and five Rajya Sabha members from the region.

The committee members sought information on the seven Assembly segments in each Parliamentary constituency, the chances of prospective and sitting candidates and if any changes were warranted. The unanimous suggestion to them, it is learnt, is to retain the sitting members.

In the wake of reports that TPCC president Ponnala Lakshmaiah is keen on contesting from Bhongir and leave Jangaon Assembly seat to his daughter-in-law, sitting MP Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy vehemently opposed it and urged the committee to not sacrifice the sitting members. Malkajgiri MP Sarve Satyanarayana conveyed that he would retain his seat with a record majority and that the AICC president Sonia Gandhi’s popularity among Telangana people was at its peak and the party would do extremely well.

MP Ponnam Prabhakar apparently conveyed that the decision of the high command should be final as it was well aware of social components and he would back any candidate fielded by the high command in the segments under his jurisdiction. MP Anjan Kumar Yadav said to have backed V. Hanumantha Rao who showed inclination to contest from Amberpet constituency if it was also the high command’s directive.

MP Madhu Yaskhi said the TRS leaders did not have credibility as key leaders were facing extortion charges. Renuka Chowdary also believed to have argued against any truck with the TRS. Former Minister K. Jana Reddy said they would abide by the high command if it decided to make an SC as Telangana Chief Minister.

The screening committee individually met MPs -- S. Jaipal Reddy, Ponnam Prabhakar, Madhu Goud Yaskhi, Suresh Kumar Shetkar, Gutha Sukhender Reddy, Anjan Kumar Yadav, Komati Reddy Rajgopal Reddy, S. Rajaiah, Sarve Satyanarayana and Balram Naik. It also sought views of Rajya Sabha members V. Hanumantha Rao, P. Govardhan Reddy, Rapolu Anand Bhaskar, M.A. Khan and Mrs. Chowdary, among others.

With the TRS upping the ante against the ruling party and opening its doors wide to attract disgruntled Congress leaders and their cadre into their fold, the election committee apparently is making its moves carefully to choose the candidates by taking every one on board.

Former Ministers J. Geetha Reddy, D.K. Aruna and MLC Ponguleti Sudhakar Reddy also met the committee and gave their inputs.

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