Too many claimants for tickets for too few seats and factional rivalry has made it difficult for the Congress to announce the names of the candidates for the Assembly by-elections in Uttar Pradesh, which are likely to be held in November. The prospective candidates have been empanelled and several rounds of meetings have been held in Delhi to finalise the names, but the party high command is yet to give its assent.

Assembly by polls in Uttar Pradesh are due to be held in 12 constituencies – Bhartana, Mughalsarai, Puwayan, Lucknow West, Jhansi, Rari, Kol Asla, Padrauna, Isauli, Haiser Bazar, Lalitpur and Etawah. Some of the constituencies, including Bhartana, Lucknow West, Jhansi and Padrauna, have fallen vacant as the sitting MLAs were elected to the Lok Sabha in the 2009 General Election. Bhartana was represented by the Samajwadi Party president, Mulayam Singh, Lucknow West by senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader, Lalji Tandon, Jhansi by Union Minister of State, Pradeep Jain and Padrauna by another Union Minister of State, RPN Singh.

The Congress has only two sitting seats out of the 12 but the party had empanelled three to four names for each constituency, which were sent to the General Secretary of All India Congress Committee and in charge for UP affairs, Digvijay Singh in the beginning of September. Yet, despite the empanelment exercise, there has been no dearth of ticket seekers with the Lucknow West and Jhansi being the most sought after constituencies.

Sources in the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee said over 70 claimants had submitted their applications and the applications have not stopped coming to the party headquarters even after a couple of rounds of meetings in Delhi. A panel of four names from Lucknow West has been sent to the leadership, sources said. The Congress has not won from Lucknow West since 1985; the sitting Congress MP from Lakhimpur Kheri, Zafar Ali Naqvi, was the last party MLA from here.

A panel of four names has also been sent for Jhansi but around 40 ticket seekers presented themselves at a recent meeting in Delhi.

In the four Assembly by elections held recently, the Congress drew a blank but its vote percentage went up substantially. In Moradabad West, the party polled about 27.18 per cent votes ( in 2007 UP polls it was 3.08 per cent ), it was around 13.80 per cent in Malihabad ( 1.14 per cent in 2007 ) and in Bidhuna the Congress secured 10.73 per cent votes, which was much higher than the 2.06 per cent vote in the 2007 Assembly polls. In Morna, the Congress got about 3.96 per cent of the popular vote, a marginal increase from 1.04 per cent in 2007.