Congress plan: Let’s win Opposition seats

Bengaluru: With no clear party guidelines in place to select candidates for the forthcoming Assembly polls, the state Congress unit on Wednesday decided to ‘recommend’ two or three names each for the 90 plus constituencies where it had lost in the 2013 Assembly polls.

Party leaders discussed three strategies – firstly to focus on seats they lost narrowly in 2013, secondly to rectify decisions that had gone wrong in 2013 such as fielding C. M. Ibrahim in Bhadravati, and lastly to stick to the party's time tested social engineering formula along with winnablity while finalising candidates.

Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, a senior leader who participated in the meeting, disclosed that though the party had arrived at a broad-based agreement on selecting candidates , it could not be considered the ‘final word’ as these decisions need to be ratified by central leaders in New Delhi.

The source further disclosed that the KPCC's election committee headed by its president, Dr G. Parameshwar had unanimously decided to refer the names of all sitting legislators to the party's central committee to take a final decision on who should be dropped or retained for the 2018 Assembly polls. "However, leader of the party in the Lok Sabha, M. Mallikarjun Kharge has reportedly suggested to the party election committee not to drop any sitting legislator from the candidates list as it will attract negative publicity ahead of the elections. Hence, the party should allow all sitting MLAs to contest, as it has been the tradition in the last couple of decades," the source explained adding that this has made the election committee send the names of all sitting legislators to the central election committee.

The source added that the Congress leadership felt a section of sitting legislators are likely to lose in the coming polls and feel this can be offset by  focusing more on constituencies where the party had narrowly lost in 2013. "We lost about 37 seats in 2013 by 700 to 5000 votes. We need to focus more on these constituencies to offset the losses in constituencies we hold at present," the source contended.

The party has also decided not to commit the same mistake of  fielding candidates based on leaders' recommendations.  "Both CM, Siddaramaiah and KPCC chief, Dr G. Parameshwar had fielded their own candidates in several constituencies, which the party could have won in 2013. Bhadravati, where the CM’s associate, C.M. Ibrahim was  fielded, is a case in point.  Dr Parameshwar decided to field his associate, Prof. B. K. Chandrashekhar from Basavangudi who eventually lost by a huge margin. We lost almost a dozen seats due to such wrong decisions in 2013," the source  explained.

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