Bhubaneswar : The Odisha Congress will finalize the list of candidates for the 147 Assembly seats and 21 Lok Sabha seats by the end of current month in an attempt to gear up its campaign machinery ahead of the twin polls.
The list of candidates will be finalized by February end and will be sent to All India Congress Committee for approval. The early finalization of list of candidates will strengthen the organization at the grass root, said Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee President Niranjan Patnaik.
The party had managed to bag just 16 seats in 147 assembly seats in 2014 polls with its vote share being 26.00% votes while BJD had bagged 117 seats with 44.10 % vote share. The party suffered worst beating failing to win a single seat out of 21 Lok Sabha seats. The party think-tanks are however optimistic of performing exceedingly well in 2019 polls at the backdrop of the party coming to power in neighbouring Chattishgarh.
The Congress is on a steady decline since 2000 when it lost to BJD-BJP alliance in assembly polls. Since then, the party’s fortune is on a steady downslide. Its worst humiliation was witnessed in 2017 panchayat polls when it managed to win just 66 of the 849 zilla parishad seats. Its votes’ percentage plummeted to 18%, an all-time low. BJP which polled 32% votes in rural body polls pushed Congress to third spot in Odisha’s political firmament.
Of late, the party has witnessed high-profile desertion with two sitting MLAs- Naba Das and Johesh Singh- quitting the party to join BJD.
In the 2014 assembly polls, 40 of the party’s 147 candidates had lost their security deposits. Those candidates will no more be given party tickets. The party will lay emphasis on winnability factor besides making judicious blending of youth and experience in finalizing the list of candidates both for the Lok Sabha and Assembly, said party insiders.