GUWAHATI, Sept 2 - With only a few months to go for the next Lok Sabha polls, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) has directed the State unit of the grand old party to prepare a fresh list of candidates for the elections by focusing more on young and new faces.
Sources in the Congress party told this newspaper that the list of candidates for the 2019 parliamentary polls is likely to contain a number of new names, who had not fought Lok Sabha polls earlier.
�AICC general secretary in-charge for Assam Harish Rawat had met all senior leaders of the State unit as well as of frontal organisations during his visit here last week and said that Rahul Gandhi is looking to rejuvenate the party by giving more prominence to young blood. Accordingly, Rawat has issued directions to the State party leadership to prepare a fresh list of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls,� a senior Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) leader told The Assam Tribune.
He said that the party believes that giving more space to new faces and young leaders is the only way to emerge as a viable alternative to the ruling BJP after successive drubbings which the Congress party faced in Assam during the 2014 Lok Sabha and the 2016 Assembly elections.
�Our target is to tap the 65-70 per cent of voters who are below the age of 35 years. For that, we need new candidates, preferably young ones, who do not have any previous baggage and will be able to relate to the wishes and aspirations of the youths. So, many of the leaders who used to get Lok Sabha tickets earlier may be eased out this time. The party is likely to bring in more young leaders as well as senior ones who have not fought polls in the Lok Sabha arena earlier,� said a leader of the party.
He added that Rawat, during his recent visit, had asked senior State Congress leaders to be ready to make �sacrifices� and to make way for new faces.
�While we have set a target of winning at least 11 out of the 14 Lok Sabha seats from Assam in 2019, realistically that is a target well nigh impossible to achieve. But even if we manage to win from at least seven constituencies, it will be a big morale booster,� said the APCC office-bearer.
Meanwhile, Congress sources said that chances of new faces being allotted party tickets are high in certain constituencies like Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Guwahati, Mangaldai, Nagaon, Dhubri and Karimganj.
Sources said that while any final decision regarding ticket allotment will only be made by the party high command, among front runners for party candidature are former minister Pradyut Bordoloi from Dibrugarh, former MLA Sushanta Borgohain and Gayatri Handique from Jorhat, Bolin Bordoloi from Guwahati, Bibhuti Bhushan Borthakur from Nagaon, former minister Dr Zoii Nath Sarmah and Kishore Bhattacharya from Mangaldai, Dr Joy Prakash Das and former minister Rajib Lochan Pegu from Lakhimur, and serving MLA Dr Motiur Rahman Mandal from Dhubri.
�However, any sitting MLA will not be given ticket for the Lok Sabha polls until and unless absolutely necessary due to lack of any strong alternative candidate,� said a Congress party source.
Significantly, the Congress party was able to win only three out of the 14 Lok Sabha seats from Assam during the 2014 parliamentary polls.