Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: In a bid to score the first-mover advantage over its rivals BJD and BJP, Odisha Congress today started its candidate selection process for the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections 2019.

The All India Congress Committee (AICC) screening committee for Odisha today held discussions with party workers and office-bearers at the State party office for the short-listing of candidates.

"The chairman of the screening committee, VD Satheesan will hold discussions with various stakeholders at the district and zonal levels before arriving at a consensus over selection of candidates. The focus will be on youth, women, but the main criteria for selection will be winability of the candidates. The decision will be taken at the AICC level," informed Congress MLA Chiranjib Biswal after the screening committee meeting.

VD Satheesan said "The first priority in winability and second comes commitment to the Congress party. We are of the opinion that there should be adequate representation of women and youngsters."

Member of AICC screening committee, Naushad Solanki said "There are more than 5-6 eligible candidates in each constituency which is making it tough."

PCC Chief Niranjan Patnaik said "Winability will be prioritised and preference will be given to youth and women."

Meanwhile, the Congress party is making efforts to form alliances with the left parties including Communist Party of India (CPI), CPI (Marxist) and regional party Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) in the State. It is expected that the State Congress will grant four Lok Sabha seats and 20 Assembly seats for these parties. However, a final decision in this regard is yet to be taken, sources said.

CPI National Council member Ramakrushna Panda said "We have not yet finalised the seat sharing arrangement. We want to contest from 12 Assembly seats and 2 Lok Sabha seats."