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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

Rahul Gandhi’s plan to declare candidates well in advance falls flat

Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 10, 2014
First Published: 00:11 IST(10/3/2014) | Last Updated: 16:52 IST(10/3/2014)

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s plan to announce party candidates for the Lok Sabha elections at least three to six months in advance has remained a pipe dream as the first list of contestants was declared barely a month ahead of the polls.

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Gandhi had tasked party general secretary and confidante Madhusudan Mistry to identify winnable candidates on all the 543 Lok Sabha seats so that the names were announced months before the general elections.

The idea was to give candidates enough time to campaign and connect with the voters. The move would have also given re-nominated sitting MPs considerable time to check any anti-incumbency and complete the unfinished agendas.

The strategy was also devised to contain the rebel factor in the party. Denial of tickets at the last minute usually triggered rebellion and had cost the party several seats both in LS and assembly elections in the past.

In the beginning of last year, the party appointed 54 observers and sent them across the country to identify the potential candidates. They submitted their reports in May after which Mistry toured to get the feedback and cross-check details of candidates.

After making an independent assessment in each constituency, Mistry submitted a detailed report to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul by July-end. The entire process was completed in September-October to enable the party to come out with its first set of candidates by January.

But the plan hasn’t worked so far. Despite the central election committee, headed by Sonia Gandhi, having met several times to discuss and finalise the names of candidates, the party came out with its first list only on Saturday.

In contrast, the BJP has already declared its three lists so far with the first one coming out as early as February 27. AAP too has already declared its two sets of candidates so far.


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