Rahul sends ‘spies’ on Mission 2014
By J R Prasad | Published: 18th November 2012 09:19 AM |
If Congress leaders are to be trusted, Rahul Gandhi, who is heading the Congress Election Coordination Committee, has already started ‘secret missions’ to select Lok Sabha candidates for the next General Election slated for 2014, or even before. He is only following the footsteps of his father Rajiv Gandhi and uncle Sanjay, giving Congress MPs a flashback of those same anxieties. Rajiv used to send his trusted lieutenants to various states to vet the personal and political resumes of prospective candidates. Even for the Assembly elections in various states such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajiv used to send secret observers to gather data on the performance of Congress candidates and ministers. Earlier, for the 1980 Lok Sabha polls, Sanjay Gandhi had personally chosen about 25 per cent of young MPs such as Kamal Nath, Jagdish Tytler and Ramchandra Rath, who went on to play a vital role in Congress politics.
It is obvious that Rahul is only following a trusted family tradition to choose the party’s representatives for the hustings. Nobody is exempt from the exercise, including Rahul himself and his mother, Congress president Sonia Gandhi; sources said that Rahul’s “spies” will collect feedback on the performance of the Congress MPs from Rae Bareli and Amethi. A source close to Rahul said it is natural for him to undertake such an exercise. “That is how he works. He always prefers to work with detailed reports from the ground. He has his own approach and for which he gets independent inputs.”
AICC general secretary and Gujarat MP Madhusudan Mistry is in charge of this exercise. He has been nominated to the five-man Election Coordination Committee. Rahul, along with Mistry, has handpicked a 50-member team to individually assess the performance of party MPs in the constituencies allotted to him or her. Young MLAs and MLCs across the country have been inducted into the team and are designated as ‘facilitators’. Their names are top secret, known only to the PCC chiefs of the state assigned to each. The constituency allotted to each facilitator is also a secret—the incumbent MP, if not renominated, will never know who scuppered his chances. Apart from reviewing each MP’s accomplishments, the performance inspector will gather information on other ticket aspirants as well and suggests to the AICC, three probables in the order of priority.
In Lok Sabha constituencies represented by the Opposition parties, the facilitator is required to prepare a list of probable candidates, with ‘winnability’ as the main criterion. Each team member has been assigned 10 to 11 constituencies, depending on the size of the electorate of the state. Each facilitator is armed with a questionnaire consisting 30 questions, along with demographic data and profiles of the ticket aspirants. Items in the questionnaire relate to the candidate’s commitment to the party; popular image; whether the subject is facing corruption charges and also whether any other person in the constituency has greater clout among voters.
Extra care has been taken to avoid allotting constituencies to the home states of facilitators. For instance, out of the six leaders inducted into the Rahul’s ‘secret agents’ team from Andhra Pradesh, Rudraraju Padma Raju has been allotted 10 constituencies in Tamil Nadu, whereas another member Bhanu Prasad has been given 11 segments in Orissa. During their recce missions, the ‘covert operatives’ hold meetings with legislators, senior partymen and cadres separately. They also will collect feedback from the ‘aam aadmi’
Rahul on top secret candidate mission
Rahul Gandhi, who is heading the Congress Election Coordination Committee, has already started ‘secret missions’ to select Lok Sabha candidates for the next General Election slated for 2014, or even before. Rahul has handpicked a 50-member team to individually assess the performance of party MPs in the constituencies allotted to him or her. Young MLAs and MLCs across the country have been inducted into the team and are designated as ‘facilitators’. Their names are top secret, known only to the PCC chiefs of the state assigned to each.
Currently, the facilitators are on assignment in the Lok Sabha constituents mostly represented by heavyweights. Be it the finance minister, the home minister or a member of the core committee, all sitting Congress MPs will be vetted by Rahul Gandhi before being given a ticket. For instance, Rudraraju Padma Raju, has been asked to assess the performance of finance minister P Chidambaram in Sivaganga. Padma Raju said, “I am not that much big to asses the performance of a top leader like Chidambaram. But, Rahul Gandhi is particular that only clean and committed leaders must be fielded by the party in 2014.”
For this massive, secret exercise, Rahul personally trained the members of the team at AICC War Room at 15, Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Road in Delhi on October 10 during a one day workshop; he asked his ‘spies’ to be unbiased while judging the performance of the party’s sitting MPs across the country. The covert operation, however, is having teething troubles. Some of the facilitators, for example from Andhra Pradesh, do not know even the contours of the constituencies allotted to them. They would have to do diligent homework before getting down to work. The 50-member team will submit its performance report on each and every Congress MP along with a probables list to the AICC by the second week of coming December.
- Sunday Standard