In preparation for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi, who is heading the Congress’ Election Coordination Committee, has appointed 50 MLAs and MLCs as facilitators to collect information on the performance of incumbent Congress MPs in constituencies allotted to them. Each facilitator is armed with a questionnaire with 30 posers, along with demographic data and profiles of the ticket aspirants.
Items in the questionnaire relate to the candidate’s commitment to the party; image; whether he faces corruption charges and 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’ team from Andhra, Rudraraju Padma Raju has been allotted 10 constituencies in Tamil Nadu.
During their recce missions, the ‘covert operatives’ will hold meetings with legislators, senior partymen and cadre separately. They also will collect feedback from the ‘aam aadmi’. 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, Raju has been asked to assess the performance of finance minister P Chidambaram in Sivaganga. Raju said, “I am not that much big to assess the performance of a top leader like Chidambaram.
Rahul Gandhi is particular that only clean and committed leaders must be fielded by the party in 2014.” For this 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 party’s sitting MPs.
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 list of probables to the AICC by the second week of December.
In UP, the Congress has broken the State up into eight zones, so Rahul had to identify as many ‘spies’. He has so far named seven: Saumitra Khan (Bengal), Aslam Sheikh (Maharashtra MLA), Rajwardhan Singh (Madhya Pradesh MLA), Ashwani Sikni (Punjab MLA), Rajkishori Singh (MLA), Amit Chaudhary (Delhi MLA), Mohammad Javed (Madhya Pradesh MLA).