The State Election Committee of the Uttar Pradesh Congress has taken the safe route of authorising the party president, Sonia Gandhi, and the party vice-president, Rahul Gandhi, to take the final call on the names of candidates for the Lok Sabha election. A resolution to this effect was adopted at the inaugural meeting of the 22-member panel held at the Pradesh Congress Committee headquarters on Wednesday. The meeting lasted less than an hour.

Mr. Gandhi, who is a member of the State Election Committee, was not present. Union Ministers Salman Khurshid, Beni Prasad Verma and RPN Singh and the UP Mahila Congress chief, Meera Singh, were also absent.

All India Congress Committee in charge of UP, Madhusudan Mistry and the UP Congress president, Nirmal Khatri, told reporters that since both the party president and vice president were from the State it was resolved to authorise them to select the candidates for the Lok Sabha elections in U.P. They have also been authorised to give necessary directives to the State Election Committee, Mr. Khatri said.

Mr. Mistry said the docket containing the names of the prospective candidates finalised by the observers appointed by the UPCC, names given by observers appointed by Delhi and those who submitted their applications directly would be sent to the screening committee. When asked about the purpose of the State Election Committee meeting when the Congress president and the party vice president have been authorised to finalise the candidates, Mr. Mistry replied that the process was aimed to help the Congress president.

He was non-committal on when the candidates’ names would be announced. He said the names of 100 to 125 candidates from all over the country are likely to be announced in February.

He said 15 Lok Sabha constituencies, including two in U.P. ( Varanasi and Khalilabad) have been taken up as pilot project where the names would be finalised by the party members of these constituencies through the process of election. The candidate getting the maximum number of votes would get the ticket, Mr. Mistry said. This selection process would be followed for the 15 seats in the 2014 poll and if the project is successful, it would be adopted in subsequent elections, the Congress general secretary added.