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Cong yet to finalise nominee

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, March 13 � Selection of Congress nominee for the Rajya Sabha seat suffered last minute delay, as party president, Sonia Gandhi left for Chennai this afternoon.

There was some progress though, as the list of 39 aspirants was short-listed by general secretary in-charge for Assam and Union Law Minister, M Verrappa Moily in consultation with Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi and PCC president, Bhubaneswar Kalita.

The Chief Minister and Kalita also met at the former�s house this afternoon and held a discussion.

The State Congress leadership is faced with a piquant situation. Gogoi has to leave for Guwahati tomorrow, as he has to present the Budget in Assembly on Monday. However, both the PCC president and Gogoi were advised by AICC to stay put till Sunday.

As the candidates started leaving for Assam, ending their hectic lobbying, the State Congress leadership kept the aspirants guessing. The Chief Minister and Kalita though continued to meet the candidates.

Sources said the Congress is weighing the options of fielding a representative either from tea or minority community, as the two communities voted for the party in large numbers in the past elections. The party is also toying with the option of fielding a minority woman candidate to checkmate AUDF.

The possibility of fielding a candidate from Barak Valley seems remote, thereby sealing the fate of Santosh Mohan Dev. The party has also adopted the formula of not fielding any candidate, who lost elections in the last two years.

Sources said Moily has short-listed the candidates and the list is likely to be produced before the Congress president after her arrival later this evening or tomorrow morning for approval for final clearance. The Chief Minister has so far not had a meeting with the Congress president.

The Congress president, besides Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh and several Union Ministers have left for Tamil Nadu to take part in the inauguration of the new legislative Assembly complex of the State.

Meanwhile, Kalita dismissed reports of the possibility of fielding either Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma or Union Information and Broadcasting Minister, Ambika Soni from Assam, as reported in the media.

He clarified that Sharma is being fielded from Haryana, a decision taken long time ago, while Soni, whose term comes to an end in June, may be nominated from Punjab.

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