Tainted Congress ticket seekers in state of despair as Rahul diktat kicks in
By Santwana Bhattacharya | ENS - NEW DELHI
Published: 13th Oct 2013 08:35:04 AM
Among the winding queue of ticket aspirants outside the AICC office of the party’s Rajasthan in-charge, Gurudas Kamath, are several red-turbaned, dhoti-clad men camping at 24 Akbar Road in hope of swinging a favourable deal. One of them literally accosts mediapersons with better access than him to the Congress leader’s office and flashes a form he’s barely filled. He points to the specific column on ‘pending case/which court/status’ and shows it’s blank. He believes it is his biggest credential to get a ticket. The new-fangled form is the latest credo in the Congress, which has to follow the Rahul Gandhi diktat—no candidate with serious criminal charges. Toeing the line are the AICC in-charges and the respective screening committee chairman —Shakeel Ahmed-V. Narayanasamy for Delhi; Mohan Prakash-Madhusudan Mistry for Madhya Pradesh and B.K. Hariprasad-C.P. Joshi for Chhattisgarh. After Rahul's public stand, the Congress cant even brazen it out with a Raja Bhaiyya type induction—one of the reasons Ajit Jogi has been kept away from the assembly election fray, sources say. The Congress, banking on a sympathy wave in Chhattisgarh and hoping for an anti-incumbency feeling, is keeping Jogi at an arm’s length from claiming the CM’s chair. Jogi however is being wooed with promises of tickets to his son and wife.
The reason Kawasi Lakma, the Konta MLA who was under a cloud after surviving the Maoist strike on the Congress convoy, is still on the first list of Chhattisgarh candidates along with Mahendra Karma’s wife and Nand Kumar Patel’s son is because he has been cleared in the two cases against him.
However, a few sitting Congress MLAs are in for trouble. Cases are pending against Korba’s Jai Singh Bhaiyya, Paresh Agarwal from Khallari and Shakrajeet Naik from Raigarh. Party sources say that of the 5-10 per cent sitting of MLAs who will be dropped, most fall in this category.
Rahul seems to have given strict instructions that he will not tolerate the spectacle of Congress ministers/MLAs resigning because of convictions. “If you don’t get winning candidates and have to sit in opposition, we’ll do that,” he’s said to have remarked.
21 sitting MLAs in Madhya Pradesh—Dilip Singh Gurjar (Ujjain), Adal Singh Kansana (Sumawali), R.P. Dattigaon (Badnawar) or Omkar Singh Markam (Dindori) – may have a tough time getting tickets. Similar is the case with 15 MLAs in Rajasthan, which include Zahida (Kaman), Rupa Ram (Deedwana), Bharosi Lal (Hindaun) and Zakir Hussain (Makrana).
Delhi has the largest such chunk -- 15 MLAs out of 39, as high as 38 per cent. Chief minister Sheila Diskshit, known for her proximity to Rahul, has not left it to Shakeel Ahmed or Narayanasamy but announced that no one “with records” will be nominated. It almost resonates with what a nervous BJP chief ministerial aspirant in Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje, announced in Jaipur—that anyone with black money or black records will be blacklisted.