Declaring that he was not disturbed at having to contest primary elections to get a Lok Sabha ticket, former union minister and senior Congress leader Janardhana Poojary, has welcomed his party’s decision to hold such internal polls.
The 76-year-old veteran, who has headed the Karnataka State unit twice in the past, is seeking to contest from the Dakshina Kannada Lok Sabha constituency, which he had represented four times.
Speaking to Express, Poojary declared that the primaries would empower local party activists. “Until now, about 15 top leaders sitting in Delhi used to decide to whom tickets to contest the elections should be given. Now, local party workers in the field will have a say on the issue,” he said.
Describing the introduction of the new system of shortlisting party nominees through secret ballots as being a laudable step, Poojary said, “With this, the rank and file of the party right from the booth-level were brought to the centre stage to decide who should be fielded to fight the Assembly or the Lok Sabha polls.”
Noting that the Congress had taken several such initiatives even in the past, Poojary said these demonstrated that the party was always open to new ideas.
Dismissing claims that the plans to hold primaries would trigger factionalism among the party rank and file, he said, “Party workers in (Dakshina Kannada) district are all well aware of who Poojary is and would rally behind me both during the internal as well as external (parliamentary) polls.”
Recalling that during the ‘turbulent’ days, he had struggled hard to keep the party flag flying high, Poojary said it eventually paid off well when Congress candidates had bagged as many as seven out of the total number of eight Assembly segments in the 2013 elections.