To select the best possible candidates for the upcoming municipal elections, Congress Party has appointed 24 party observers to gauge the "winnability" of each candidate proposed by seven election committees.
Appointed by the central leadership, the observers will not only try to understand the popularity and commitment of the proposed candidates and look at his prospects in municipal elections, they will also look for any possible nexus between committee members to promote an undeserving candidate or sideline a better one.
Senior Congress leaders accept that poor candidate selection was one of the main reasons for the party's debacle in 2007 municipal elections in Delhi and the leadership does not want to take any chances this time.
In 2007, the Congress had managed to win just 67 of the 272 wards in Delhi. However, the party put up a much better show by winning 45 of 70 assembly seats in 2007 state elections and sweeping all seven seats in parliamentary elections in 2009.
"Though we have constituted election committees to select candidates, observers appointed by the party will also act as checks and balance. These observers are senior leaders from other states and are acting in most non-partisan manner," a senior Delhi Congress leader said.
According to state Congress leaders, the senior party leadership has appointed one observer each at the parliamentary seat level, one observer each for 14 districts in the state.
While the election committees — comprising MPs, MLAs and district office bearers — are likely to submit the list of candidates they would shortlist for each municipal ward by March 20, the observers will also submit their report on these candidate by March 21.
"The senior party leadership will announce the list of candidates after going through the list submitted by the committees and the report by the observers. In case of any contradiction, the apex body of Delhi elections comprising chief minister Sheila Dikshit, state president Jai Prajkash Aggarwal and AICC in-charge for Delhi Chaudhary Bijender Singh will call the committee members and sort out the issue," a senior state Congress leader said.
Congress leaders said the observers will remain in Delhi during the campaigning period and on voting day and will continue to report on campaigning and party performance to the central leadership.