Amid uncertainty over lawyer Ram Jethmalani staying in the contest, the Congress on Thursday decided to field Rajya Sabha member Akhilesh Das against Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Lucknow.
Das was expected to file his nomination papers early on Thursday, the last date of filing papers for the first phase of election. Vajpayee is expected to file his papers around noon.
Das's candidature follows the possibility of Jethmalani withdrawing from the contest after Vajpayee's appeal to him last night to do so. Vajpayee had cited 40 years of friendship between them and appealed to Jethmalani to withdraw from the contest.
Jethmalani, who left for London on Wednesday night, said he would decide on Vajpayee's appeal after consulting his supporters and the parties backing him.