Determined Rahul Gandhi Makes Template for LS Polls
Often accused of being an ‘indecisive’ and ‘reluctant’ leader, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi this time around seems determined to prove his detractors wrong by whipping up the Congress party into a frenzied action for the Lok Sabha polls.
“We are taking the decision about giving tickets in a new manner that would reflect the voice of the people in the Congress,” Rahul told mediapersons prior to a meeting of the newly-appointed Congress Screening Committee heads of various states and union territories who will oversee the candidate selection process, prepare the shortlist of LS candidates.
For the first time, the Congress may announce its candidates much before the parliamentary elections. It could be right after the AICC session scheduled on January 17, complying with the Antony Committee report which has been dusted out by Rahul from a forgotten cupboard of the AICC backroom.
This is the second instance in which Rahul has decided to act upon a report prepared by a senior Congress leader, the previous instance being the handling of media where Digvijay Singh, who headed the party’s publicity committee, submitted a report and called for a revamping of the media department and suggested quick-footed response and use of social media.
Ajay Maken was brought in to head the media cell based on the recommendations of the Digvijaya Singh committee.
On candidate selection, the Congress party’s Central Election Committee, of which Madhusudan Mistry (a Rahul loyalist) is the general secretary in-charge, has already prepared a database of candidates with ground level feedback from another Rahul-team member Kaju.
The database, sources added, was prepared keeping several factors in minds--winnability, political heft, public works done in constituency, voters and workers relations vis-à-vis the candidate, his/her image in the constituency and adherence to Congress values.
This, it seems, has been done to do away with the top-down method of candidate selection.
In fact, Rahul’s remark on Friday that ‘discussions’ on candidates from various states have been taking place within the party for a while confirmed that a template has already been prepared.
Rahul asserted that ‘all tickets’ will be finalised after the national level meeting. In the meeting of the Screening Committee on Thursday, Rahul is said to have harped on the point that common people should be given priority to make the electoral process more inclusive, persons with criminal records had to be avoided, winnability and right kind of politics should also be factored in.
Mending its late night, last minute and fatigued selection procedure, sources said, that the party may come out with the first list of 150-200 candidates by end of January.
Sushilkumar Shinde heads the screening committee for Bihar, Assam, West Bengal, Andaman Nicobar Islands; Mallikarjun Kharge-Madhya Pradesh, Maharshtra and Mumbai; Vyalar Ravi-Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka; Bhubanesh Kalta-Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, J&K; V Narayanasamy-North-East; Jeetendra Singh-Uttar Pradesh; Ghulam Nabi Azad-Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry and Lakswadeep.
Former Railway Minister Pawan Bansal makes a come back in the party and will be heading the screening panel of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Dadra Nagar Haveli, Daman Diu. P C Chacko will head Delhi, Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana. Oscar Fernandes -- Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha.
Interestingly, while Rahul’s team has prepared the basic database, the old Congress hands have been inducted as screening committee heads.