The Punjab Congress will send a list of candidates shortlisted for the 13 Lok Sabha seats to Congress president Rahul Gandhi for final selection. This was decided here in a meeting of the election committee of the State unit of the party for the coming Lok Sabha polls. “The decision, which marks a new openness and stronger democratic systems in the party under the dynamic leadership of Rahul, Gandhi comes in response to the party president’s suggestion that the State unit should send in the names of proposed candidates instead of merely authorising the high command to take a decision,” a party release said. Referring to the suggestion, Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar mooted a proposal at the meeting to accept the same and move forward accordingly. The objective is to ensure Congress’ victory in the polls and the party forming the government at the Centre, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said, urging all party members to rise above personal relations and concerns to select only winnable candidates. According to the release, Capt. Amarinder made it clear that he was not in favour of any alliance, suggesting that only Congress members/workers should be fielded in the polls. He claimed that the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were in disarray and the situation was clearly balanced in favour of the Congress. AICC secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs Asha Kumari said a total of 180 applications had been received for 13 Lok Sabha seats from Punjab. She said Rahul Gandhi wanted names of the shortlisted candidates, as per the procedure adopted by the party in Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh.Ms. Kumari suggested that the list of applicants be circulated to all members, who can tick their choices and also add their own suggestions on possible candidates. Given the criticality of these elections for the Congress and the country, it was important for the party to win all the 13 seats in Punjab, she said. The meeting accepted the suggestion and decided that the names of the applicants be circulated among members of the election committee, from where the shortlisted names would go to the screening committee, which would send the same to the central election committee. The members would be allowed to give preferential numbering also, as decided in the meeting. No bar on sitting MLAsDuring the meeting, it was decided that there would be no bar on sitting MLAs from contesting these polls, though it was clarified that the same should be considered only as an exceptional case. Other members of the election committee present at the meeting included Pratap Singh Bajwa, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Rana Gurmit Sodhi, Gurpreet Singh Kangar, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, and heads of all frontal organisations of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee.