Congress tickets: Aspirants will need to prove their case

New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS) Getting tickets, or nominations, to contest elections on behalf of the Congress party just got harder. Merely lobbying with the party bosses in Delhi will not be enough.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has introduced a new application format for ticket-seekers in which they will have to state in writing why they should get the party nomination. They will also have to analyse the party's performance in the past two assembly and Lok Sabha polls and given an idea of the potential candidates of the opposition parties in their constituency. This is meant to test the aspirant's knowledge of his or her constituency.

Gandhi, paty sources say, has reworked the ticket distribution system for assembly polls in five states later this year to make it more transparent and strengthen democratic processes at the ground level.

Besides, feedback obtained from the block level would be given weightage in assessing the claims of ticket seekers.

"For him (Rahul) processes and justifications, while deciding who gets the party ticket, are the key," a senior Congress functionary, who did not wish to be named, told IANS.

"In Rahul's scheme of things, ticket distribution should not only be fair but should be seen as such by the workers," he said.

Assembly elections are due in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram in November-December. While the Congress rules Delhi, Rajasthan and Mizoram, the Bharatiya Janata Party runs Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Barring Mizoram, the Congress and the BJP would be in a direct contest in the remaining four.

As the state polls come just a few months ahead of the 2014 national poll, ticket distribution would be the key to success, said party insiders.

The new system is expected to help the Congress managers. Earlier, there was no system to verify the claims of a ticket seeker as no records were available.

The new practice would help create a data base which can be verified in the future. It would also weed out the non-serious contenders, party leaders said.

"In any constituency, there are no more than four or five serious candidates. Only one of them would get a ticket but the workers should feel that he was equally deserving," a Congress general secretary said.

Faulty ticket distribution due to the pulls and pressures of senior leaders and ignoring the opinion of local leaders have cost the Congress dear in assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa and Gujarat in recent years.

"Ticket distribution is always critical in a keenly contested poll," Congress general secretary in-charge of Delhi Shakeel Ahmed told IANS.

"Rahul wants to bring democracy in the Congress at ground level. No party is doing it. If the party projects a good candidate, it attracts the voters," Nisar ul Haq, who teaches political science at Jamia Millia Islamia, told IANS.

According to sources, feedback from the block and district levels, besides the reports of central observers, have been received by the party for the five poll-bound states.

A rough list of probables is being processed at the state unit level and will come to the screening committees for respective states once the Election Commission announces the poll schedule, likely by September-end.

The central election committee will then start finalising the list of candidates, party sources said.

(Amit Agnihotri can be contacted at amit.a@ians.in)

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