Bihar polls: Amid rumour-mongering, all eyes on Congress’ apex poll body meet on Wednesday

With allegations of ‘tainted and misfit’ leaders getting preference in selection of candidates by the Congress party for Bihar assembly polls, all eyes are now on the central election committee (CEC) meeting scheduled to be held in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The CEC, leaders said, is expected to scrutinise the candidature of leaders selected by the screening committee headed by former AICC general secretary Avinash Pande for fielding them as the party nominees in the wake of allegations of foul play in the selection.

On the last-minute intervention of the CEC, chaired by AICC chief Sonia Gandhi, the party had replaced its candidate for Tikari assembly seat in Gaya and fielded Sumant Kumar in place of Ashok Gagan, going to the polls in the first phase. The apex selection body of the Congress, however, did not take note of selection of candidates like Nitu Kumar, who is involved in 18 criminal cases including that of murder and kidnapping, and Lalan Yadav, involved in a case of forgery to the tune of Rs 80 lakh, contesting from Hisua (Nawada) and Sultanganj (Bhagalpur).

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Doubts prevail over participation of Congress legislature party (CLP) leader Sadanand Singh in the scheduled CEC. Singh returned to Patna on Tuesday, a day ahead of the CEC, citing electoral necessities for his home constituency of Kahalgaon. Singh’s son Subhanand Mukuesh is taking the plunge into electoral politics from the seat vacated by his father.

Meanwhile, speculations flew thick and fast regarding dropping of the names of Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) chief Madan Mohan Jha and the CLP leader from the CEC. Jha, however, dismissed the report as fabricated, aimed to malign the image of the Congress at the behest of rival parties. “I am going to Delhi to attend the CEC,” said Jha. The state party chief and the CLP are part of the CEC as it shortlists the candidates to be fielded in any assembly or parliamentary elections. Singh, however, could not be contacted for his comments.

A section of the BPCC leaders claimed that the CEC has decided to scrutinise the list of candidates finalised for the second and final phases of elections in view of continued protests by the party leaders at the AICC and BPCC offices. AICC in-charge Shaktisinh Gohil, along with Pandey and other top leaders from Bihar, were accused of doling out tickets to incompetent and tainted leaders.

A senior AICC leader said that the CEC, which has already shortlisted 46 candidates in its meeting on October 6, would select the candidates for the rest 24 seats. The Congress has been allotted 70 out of 243 seats under the Grand Alliance (GA), comprising the RJD and the Left parties. The AICC had announced names of 21 contestants for the first phase of elections, slated for October 28.

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