Gehlot to head Congress screening committee for UP

New Delhi, Jan 14 (IANS) The Congress on Saturday appointed former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot as chairman of the screening committee for the forthcoming assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.

Party MP Sushmita Dev and secretary Deepak Babaria are the other two members of the panel.

The screening committee would look at the suggestions sent by the state unit on the choice of candidates and make its own recommendations for a final decision by the party’s central election committee, which is headed by party chief Sonia Gandhi.

The announcement of the screening committee was made days ahead of the notification for the first phase of assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.

The first phase polling would take place on February 11 for 73 assembly seats.

The politically crucial state will see a seven-phased election with counting of votes on March 11.

The Congress has not ruled out a pre-poll alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh even as the party has said it is ready to contest on its own on all 403 seats in the state assembly.

The Election Commission is expected to give on Monday its verdict on the tussle between two factions of Samajwadi Party for the party’s “cycle” symbol.

The Congress is expected to take a final stand on any alliance after the Election Commission verdict.