Faced with the failure of an experiment in Punjab, the Congress has decided not to project any leader as its chief ministerial candidate in the upcoming assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
The party decided to stick to its decades-old policy of not announcing its chief ministerial candidate in any election-going state after the move failed in Punjab, where the poll pundits, exit and opinion polls had predicted a comfortable victory for the Congress.
Usually, the practice in the Congress is to keep the issue open and alive as there are several claimants to the chief minister's post in a state, and let the elected legislators authorise the Congress high command to take a decision.
In a departure from this practice, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi had declared Punjab unit chief Captain Amarinder Singh as the chief ministerial candidate in the middle of the polls in 2012.
But the gamble did not pay off as the party suffered a shocking defeat at the hands of the Akali Dal-BJP combine.
"Once a CM candidate is announced, the other contenders get disenchanted and refuse to work for somebody else. In the process, the party ends up on the losing side," a senior Congress functionary said. "The hope of assuming the top post after polls is what keeps everybody going."
But many in the party are critical of the move. Himachal Pradesh Congress chief Virbhadra Singh has repeatedly sought a review in the policy.
Former Union minister Shashi Tharoor had made a veiled criticism of the policy after the party's poor performance in the UP polls.
"With the Yadavs, UP voters knew who they would be getting for their votes; with us they did not. Essential 2 (to) project state leaders," he had tweeted after the polls.