New Delhi: In a major exercise ahead of Lok Sabha polls, Congress tonight constituted screening committees for all states and union territories for early selection of candidates.
"Congress President Sonia Gandhi has approved the screening committees for 2014 Lok Sabha elections," AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said.
Sources in the party had indicated that the meetings of the screening committees to select candidates will begin soon after the January 17 AICC meeting in Delhi, where the party could name Rahul Gandhi as its prime ministerial candidate.
With Rahul keen on early declaration of candidates for Lok Sabha polls, the party is understood to have decided to come out with a list of 150 to 200 nominees by the end of this month.
Lok Sabha elections are likely to be held in April-May and the decision will give at least three months time to the candidates to prepare for the elections.
Dwivedi said that AICC general secretaries have been made members in screening committees of all states under their charge with PCC chief and CLP leaders being the other members.
The uniformity in the form of screening committees was one of the initiatives the party had taken as per the Congress Vice President's transparency formula in party decisions.
Pawan Kumar Bansal, who had to resign from the Railway Ministry last year after a corruption controversy, is back with a larger role in the party heading the screening committees for crucial states Gujarat and Rajasthan along with Dadar Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, according to the list released today.
Rahul's close aide Jitendra Singh has been made the screening committee in-charge of electorally crucial Uttar Pradesh while Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde heads the panel for Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and Andaman Nicobar.
Congress MP and spokesperson P C Chacko heads the panel for Delhi, Chandigarh, Haryana and Punjab.
Bhubaneshwar Kalita is the chairman of the screening committee for Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir and V Narayanasamy for Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura.
Mallikarjun Kharge is Chairman the Screening Committee for Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Mumbai while Vayalar Ravi heads the panel for Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Karnataka, Ghulam Nabi Azad for Kerala, Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu.
Oscar Fernandes has been made Chairman for the panel in Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.