Chhattisgarh polls: Congress to decide on candidates on Friday

[File] Congress president Rahul Gandhi gestures while addressing the media on Rafale deal issue, in New Delhi, Saturday | PTI [File] Congress president Rahul Gandhi | PTI

The Congress leadership will on Friday decide on the candidates for the upcoming two-phase assembly election in Chhattisgarh.

According to sources, the Congress' Central Election Committee (CEC) chaired by party chief Rahul Gandhi will hold its meeting on Friday evening to decide on the candidates for Chhattisgarh. The first list of nominees is likely to come out late Friday.

Rahul Gandhi has not reconstituted the CEC even though he has appointed new members to the Congress Working Committee, the highest decision-making body of the party.

When asked, AICC general secretary Ashok Gehlot said some party leaders who are no longer in the reconstituted CWC continue to be members of the CEC.

The CEC comprises Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, A.K. Antony, Ahmed Patel, Ambika Soni, Ashok Gehlot, Janardan Dwivedi, Mohsina Kidwai, Oscar Fernandes, Mukul Wasnik, Girija Vyas and Veerappa Moily.

The Congress is seeking to oust the Raman Singh government in the state. The BJP has ruled the state for three successive terms.

Rahul Gandhi also set up a core committee for the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress which includes top party leaders P.L. Punia, Bhupesh Baghel, T.S. Singhdeo, Charan Das Mahant, Arvind Netam, Kamla Manhar and Tamradhwaj Sahu.

As many as 18 Maoist-affected constituencies of the state would witness polling in the first phase on November 12, while the rest 72 constituencies would vote in the second phase on November 20. Votes will be counted on December 11.

The gazette notification for the first phase will be issued on October 16 and filing of nominations would begin on the same day. The final date for filing nominations is October 23 and scrutiny of nominations would be completed by the next day.

Contestants may withdraw their nominations by October 26 for the first phase.

Similarly, the gazette notification for the second phase will be issued on October 26 while the last date to file nominations will be November 2 and scrutiny will be completed by the next day.

Candidates can withdraw their nominations till November 5 after which 72 constituencies would go to polls on November 20.

According to the Election Commission, there are total 1,85,45,819 voters including 92,95,301 men, 92,49,459 women and 1,059 third-gender voters in the state.

The state has 23,632 polling booths, out of which 19,240 are in rural and 4,392 in urban areas.

Out of 90 constituencies in 27 districts, 18 in 16 districts are left wing extremism (LWE) affected and sufficient security forces are being arranged for polls.

The BJP is in power in the state since 2003. In the 2013 assembly polls, it got 49 seats while the Congress won 39 and one seat each was won by the BSP and an Independent.