Congress election committee holding talks with PAAS, Alpesh Thakore

The Congress party's Central Election Committee (CEC) is holding hectic meetings with senior Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leaders and also with recently-inducted OBC community leader Alpesh Thakore in Delhi, to decide on the candidates for the Gujarat Assembly election first list.

With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) declaring its list of 70 candidates for the Gujarat Assembly elections on Friday, the Congress CEC is likely to also declare its list later on Friday, party sources said.

The last day for filing of nominations is November 21 for the first phase of the state assembly elections.

On Thursday, the Aam Aadmi Party announced its second list of candidates for the contest. The AAP has so far declared 20 candidates for the elections.

The Congress has been out of power in the state for more than two decades.

Last Friday, the Congress' Central Election Committee (CEC) had cleared the names of 70 candidates for the first phase of Gujarat polls in the meeting that was presided over by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, sources said. 

According to the sources, the names of the candidates are likely to be made public on Friday, especially after the saffron party declared its first list.

Congress party's Rajya Sabha MP, Ahmed Patel, along with some senior party leaders, is holding a meeting with PAAS leaders who are seeking reservation status for the Patidar community. 

The leader of the PAAS group, Hardik Patel, is not present, but Dinesh Bambhania, Lalit Vasoya, Manoj Panara, Kiritbhai Patel, convenors of the group, are in Delhi to the meeting. 

The Other Backward Caste (OBC) leader Alpesh Thakore is also attending this meeting, the sources said.

The Congress is believed to have agreed to let Alpesh Thakore have a say in candidate selection in the Thakore-dominated seats of north Gujarat and tickets for him and his father, the sources added.

Alpesh Thakore had joined the Congress after a grand show of strength in Gandhinagar last month, at which Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi welcomed him into the party. 

Alpesh, with time has gained political maturity, and initially it was speculated that he will join the saffron party. But going on his word that he will do whatever his community decides, and after the decision he joined the grand old party, in a big boost for the Congress.

The PAAS group too has pledged that whatever happens - irrespective of whether they support the Congress or not --, they will be definitely opposing the BJP. Another community leader, Jignesh Mewani representing the Scheduled Caste community has also expressed his disapproval for the saffron party.

It is learnt from sources inside the Congress that the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is also in talks with the Congress and once again they have decided to join hands for the assembly elections. And like in previous alliances, the NCP will be contesting on two to three seats in the state.


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