Congress candidate list likely in a couple of days, most MLAs may retain seats

UDF poised to go ahead, now neck and neck with LDF: Survey

Thiruvananthapuram: Even as the Congress party has decided to field a significant number of young and new candidates for the Kerala Assembly Election, most of its incumbent legislators too would be in the fray.

Even multiple-time winners in the state polls too are set to find a place on the final candidate list, which is likely to be out in two days, even though the All-India Congress Committee had advised not to repeat contestants election after election and exclude seniors except for a few big guns like Oommen Chandy.

Among the 21 incumbent Congress legislators only KC Joseph is certain to vacate his seat, Irikkur in the northern Kannur district. However, he is likely to contest from Kanjirappally in the Kottayam district. Joseph is a native of Changanacherry in the latter district.

The party's state leadership is set to arrive in Delhi with the short-list on Sunday evening.

The candidate screening committee meeting is scheduled for Monday prior to the declaration of the final names, probably on March 9. On Sunday, the state-level screening panel had vetted the names of the candidates short-listed.

AICC General Secretary (Organisation) KC Venugopal, however, clarified that the list would be out by Wednesday.

The list to be reviewed in Delhi contains the names of three choices each for about 60 constituencies. Only one name figures in the case of about 30 seats, party sources say.

The party is set to select at least 3 or 4 new candidates in most of the 14 districts.

Congress is so upbeat about its poll prospects that it is targetting to win at least 50 seats on its own steam in the April 6 state polls to elect 140 Members of the Legislative Assembly.

The party would be in the fray in a little over 90 seats and the rest would have candidates of its United Democratic Front allies.

The Congress-led UDF fancies its chances in the polls as its arch-rival the CPM-led Left Democratic Front is hobbled by a series of scandals that have dented its image. Even Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's image has been sullied in the wake of the incriminating disclosures of a key accused in the embarrassing gold and dollar smuggling cases.

'MPs won't contest'

None of the Members of Parliament representing the Congress would be contesting the polls, stated AICC General Secretary Tariq Anwar.

It is KPCC President Mullappally Ramachandran's call whether to contest or not, he added.

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