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Cong’s first list of candidates on Ugadi, says Siddaramaiah

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NEW DELHI/BENGALURU, March 18 (PTI): Senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah on Saturday said the party’s first list of candidates for the Assembly polls, which is likely by May, will be announced on March 22, the day of the Ugadi festival, which is observed as the new year by Kannadigas.

The former chief minister, who took part in the Congress’ Central Election Committee meeting in New Delhi on Friday, said the meeting also discussed poll strategy and Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the state.

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“We were preparing election strategy at the meeting yesterday. Also, Rahul Gandhi is coming to Belagavi on March 20 to attend a state-level youth rally, and we have discussed its preparations,” Siddaramaiah told reporters in New Delhi.

Asked about discussions regarding candidate selection, he said the first list will be released on March 22 morning, on the day of Ugadi festival.

The Congress’ Central Election Committee, headed by the party’s national president Mallikarjun Kharge, met on Friday in New Delhi, during which, according to reports, they approved the first list of 125 candidates, which includes 61 sitting Congress MLAs.

The screening committee of the party had earlier this month reviewed all the applications of the ticket aspirants, and their opinion was sent to the central election committee of the AICC for the final review.

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Karnataka Congress president D K Shivakumar said after the meeting on Friday night that the CEC deliberated on names recommended by the state screening committee and that it has approved most names, which the AICC will announce.

He also indicated that most of the sitting MLAs may get the ticket, stating that “all of them have done a good job.”

In response to a question about the possibility of an alliance, the KPCC chief stated, “there is no alliance with anyone, there is a proposal request for one seat, we will discuss and decide on it.”

The Congress has set a target of winning at least 150 seats in the 224-member Assembly to come to power in Karnataka with a clear majority.

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While JD(S) has already announced the first list of 93 candidates for Assembly polls, the BJP and Congress are yet to announce their lists.

Asked about the constituency he will be contesting from, Siddaramaiah today said he will abide by the high command’s decision.

To a question on reports about Rahul Gandhi advising him not to contest from Kolar, the leader of opposition in the Karnataka Assembly said, “Who said? Either Siddaramaiah or I will have to confirm this. I have left it to the high command. Whatever the high command decides, I will go by that.”

Stating that his name has not been cleared yet by the party, he said, “I had said in Kolar that I would go by the high command’s decision.”

Siddaramaiah, who is currently MLA from Badami, had earlier said that he has decided to contest the upcoming Assembly polls from Kolar, subject to approval from the party high command.

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