Today's Paper

Cong. to field Yatin Oza against Modi

NEW DELHI NOV. 24. The Congress decided today to field Yatin Oza as its candidate against the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, from Maninagar in the December elections to the State Assembly, even as the Bharatiya Janata Party finalised its candidates for all the seats except Ellisbridge where the claim of the sitting MLA, Haren Pandya, is being bitterly challenged by Mr. Modi.

Mr. Oza is a former BJP MLA who fell out with the State leadership in 2001. He led the Congress campaign in the by-elections for Sabarmati and played a crucial role in the election of the party candidate, Narhari Amin, whom he had twice defeated.

While the Congress released its third list of 12 candidates today, it held back a decision on Ellisbridge, Shahpur, Khadia and Daryapur — all in Ahmedabad — and Jamnagar which is likely to be given to the CPI. However, sources in the Congress did not rule out the possibility of candidates for all the segments except Ellisbridge being declared late in the night. As for Ellisbridge, indications are that the party will reveal its hand only after the BJP decides on its candidate which could be as late as Monday afternoon, though 3 p.m. has been fixed by the Election Commission as the deadline for filing nominations. That the BJP is facing an uphill task in getting Mr. Modi to agree to Mr. Pandya's candidature was evident from the fact that a briefing scheduled for this afternoon to announce the party's fifth list of candidates was cancelled at the last minute. The BJP spokesman, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, attributed this to the fact that the state election committee had not sent the panel of names for the remaining four Assembly segments to the central election committee, and said the exercise would be completed on Monday morning.

Though late in the night, the BJP finalised its candidates for three of the seats — including that of the former MP, Upendra Trivedi, from Bhiloda — Ellisbridge remained a festering issue over which, the party leaders said, there could be a last-minute intervention from the high command.