M A I N   N E W S

UP Congress to discuss campaign strategy today
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 2
With the Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati keeping the Congress on tenterhooks regarding alliance for the Lok Sabha poll, the party has decided to launch its election campaign in all 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh.

State Congress president Jagadambika Pal said today that a meeting of state office-bearers, AICC observers for parliamentary seats and elected representatives in the local bodies has been called in Lucknow tomorrow to discuss the campaign strategy and preparations for all seats in the state.

Stating that the talks with the BSP were being held at the “highest level,” UPPCC chief said the party had not lost hope for an alliance in the state to prevent division of “secular vote.’’ He indicated that a final picture on alliances would emerge in a week.

Also not ruling out the possibility of an alliance with the Samajwadi Party, to which the Congress is lending outside support in the state assembly, Mr Pal said yesterday’s announcement of tie-up between SP and Rashtriya Lok Dal would not be a problem.

Mr Pal indicated that in the event of Congress contesting the poll on its own, it may not withdraw support to the Mulayam government. He said there was no common minimum programme or coordination committee in UP and the Congress was criticising the “unjust decisions’’ of the state government.

The AICC screening committee for the state is today expected to complete the exercise of preparing panels of candidates for all Lok Sabha seats. The state election committee has suggested that all senior party leaders in the state should contest the elections.

The screening committee has recommended single names in about 20 constituencies including of the MPs in the last Lok Sabha. With the hope that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rahul Gandhi would be party candidates, the screening committee has left decision on Sultanpur, Amethi and Rai Bareilli seats to Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

The screening committee, which has held six meetings so far, has also suggested panels for high-profile seats of Lucknow, Allahabad and Philibit.

The Central Election Committee of the party is expected to first finalise candidates for the 32 seats in the state which are going to poll in the second phase on April 26. Polling for the other 48 seats in the state will be held in third and fourth phases.

Party leaders said the Congress has identified 42 seats in the state it is “strongly placed.’’ The party is unlikely to agree to a tie-up where it is given less than 30 seats, they said.

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