NEW DELHI, March 7 � The Congress party is exploring the possibility of fielding State Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain against AIUDF president Badruddin Ajmal in Dhubri Lok Sabha seat, even as the party finalised the list of candidates for 9 Lok Sabha seats. Decisions on Dhubri, Guwahati, Mangaldai and Nagaon seats remain pending.
The Congress party�s central election committee met this morning at the 10 Jan Path to finalise the list of candidates for the northeastern States, including Assam. The committee is headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and includes the Prime Minister and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, among others.
According to sources, the central election committee kept four Lok Sabha seats on hold, asking the State leadership to expand the panel of names. The pending seats would not be discussed at the committee level, as the candidates would be selected by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and PCC president Bhubaneswar Kalita in consultation with AICC general secretary-in-charge for Assam Avinash Pandey, said sources.
A senior AICC leader said that all the sitting MPs, barring Dip Gogoi, have been re-nominated. For the Tezpur seat, Bhupen Bora has been nominated, while sitting MLA Sushmita Dev, daughter of veteran Congress leader Santosh Mohan Dev, has been nominated for Silchar seat.
The sitting MPs, who have been re-nominated included Union DoNER Minister Paban Singh Ghatowar (Dibrugarh), Ranee Narah (Lakhimpur), Bijoy Krishna Handique (Jorhat), Biren Singh Ingti (Karbi Anglong), Ismail Hussain (Barpeta), Lalit Mohan Suklabaidya (Karimganj). For the Koliabor Lok Sabha seat, Gaurav Gogoi has been nominated in place of Dip Gogoi.
Meanwhile, the party�s decision to pitch for a heavy weight minister against Ajmal has
surprised many Congressmen. The Chief Minister reportedly opposed the move stating that Hussain was one of his key troubleshooters and was needed in the State. The decision on Dhubri seat may be reviewed in the wake of the Chief Minister�s strong reservation. Wajed Ali Choudhury stands a chance of being selected in his place, sources said.
The State Forest Minister has also reportedly opposed his nomination and expressed his reluctance to contest for Lok Sabha.
Meanwhile, the Guwahati seat was kept pending following the Chief Minister�s reservation over selection of Manas Bora. Gogoi was of the view that Bora may not be able to wrest the seat from BJP and the party needed a strong candidate. The issue has been left to Rahul Gandhi to decide, said sources.
For the Nagaon seat, the Congress poll panel has asked for more names. Anil Raja, Gautam Bora, Juri Sarma Bordoloi and Bibhuti Borthakur were short-listed.
The Mangaldai seat ran into trouble as the Chief Minister and PCC president had some reservations over the panel of list. Pranjit Choudhury, Pradyut Bhuyan and Kirip Chaliha are in the running.
CONGRESS CANDIDATES: Bhupen Bora - Tezpur, Sushmita Dev - Silchar, Paban Singh Ghatowar - Dibrugarh, Ranee Narah - Lakhimpur, Bijoy Krishna Handique - Jorhat, Biren Singh Ingti - Karbi Anglong, Ismail Hussain - Barpeta, Lalit Mohan Suklabaidya - Karimganj and Gaurav Gogoi - Koliabor