A top Congress leader on Wednesday said a list of 16 party candidates in Kerala for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls will be ready by February 20.
A high-level Kerala Congress team-- including state PCC chief Mullapally Ramachandran, leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and United Democratic Front (UDF) convenor Benny Behanan-- met senior leaders AK Antony and Mukul Wasnick on Wednesday, sources said.
Mr Ramachandran confirmed to the media that talks to finalise the list of Congress candidates for the Lok Sabha polls have begun.
"We expect to finalise the list by February 20. The question whether those currently in charge of party affairs would contest will be tackled by the top party leadership," he said.
A top source in the Congress told news agency IANS that the decision of the selection of the final candidates will be made by the party high-command after providing it a list of three candidates for each seat.
Kerala has 20 Lok Sabha seats.
In the 2014 general election, the Congress-led UDF won 12 seats. The CPI-M-led Left Front had won 8 seats while the BJP managed to win just one.
Out of the 12 seats, the Congress won in 8, while allies Indian Union Muslim League won two, and the Revolutionary Socialist Party and Kerala Congress (Mani) won one seat each.
Two seats in Kerala-- Kottayam and Wayanad-- are vacant.
Jose K Mani of the Kerala Congress (Mani) has recently quit the Kottayam seat after getting elected to Rajya Sabha. The Wayanad seat got vacant after its represent from Congress, MI Shanavas, died last month.
Leaders who will most certainly be fielded for the Lok Sabha polls include Shashi Tharoor, KC Venugopal, Kodikunnil Suresh, MK Raghavan, Anto Antony and Mullapally Ramachandran. They are all presently sitting members of the Lok Sabha.
In the meeting, the leaders also discussed Congress president Rahul Gandhi's visit to Kochi later this month.