Eyeing to dent Samajwadi Party's Muslim votebank, the Congress has finalised candidates for over 40 seats for the next year's assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. The party has okayed candidates particularly for constituencies with Muslim majority population.
According to sources, the party while distributing tickets will also give preference to first runner-ups of the 2017 elections.
In 2017 Assembly elections, at least 46 Congress candidates had secured the second position. Apart from these, seven MLAs were elected. So, the party is now mulling over giving tickets to these candidates in 2022 elections.
The Congress's move to decide early on candidates for the constituencies with Muslim majority can make a dent in Muslim votes which inturn can spoil the game of Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party.
The candidates whose names have been decided by the Congress includes Imran Masood, Nadeem Javed, former chairman of Congress's Minority Department from Jaunpur, PL Punia's son Tanuj Punia, Akhilesh Pratap Singh, Lalitesh Pati Tripathi and Rajesh Mishra.
Earlier, Congress UP unit chief Ajay Kumar Lallu had made it clear that the party will not join hands with either Samajwadi Party or Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Lallu said Congress is open to alliances with smaller parties. Lallu expressed confidence that the party would win the elections under the leadership of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and form the next government.
Both the SP and BSP have also ruled out tying up with the Congress, with SP's Akhilesh Yadav saying the party will forge alliances only with small parties and Mayawati asserting that BSP would go solo in the polls.