Stung by two back-to-back desertions by its candidates, the Congress is pulling out all stops to check the trend.
There are also apprehensions within the party that the BJP might “snatch away” some more of its candidates ahead of the elections. “We have information that a senior BJP leader is trying to woo some of our candidates. But we are alert now,” said a Congress functionary from Uttar Pradesh.
While the party could find a replacement to Bhagirath Prasad, who joined the BJP hours after being declared the Congress candidate from Bhind in Madhya Pradesh, Gautam Budh Nagar (Noida) nominee Ramesh Chand Tomar deprived it of the option of nominating someone else from the seat.
The central leadership has sought reports from its district committees on the “day-to-day activities” of the candidates, especially those who have come from other parties.
The Congress has also stepped up interaction with candidates so that they have “a sense of belonging”.
The party is also taking feedback on the activities of its office-bearers from the state to block levels, apart from workers, to ensure their conduct is satisfactory and they don’t work against the party’s interests.
“We are keeping a close watch on the activities of not only our candidates but also on functionaries and workers,” an office-bearer in the Bihar Congress said. Also, a large number of leaders of the Uttar Pradesh unit of the party are upset that the central leadership “ignored” their repeated warnings against fielding Tomar, who had joined the party after deserting the BJP in 2009, from Noida.
Even in the case of Prasad, a section of the Madhya Pradesh Congress had expressed its opposition to his nomination.
“Both of them are liars and political opportunists. A day before their joining the BJP, both had vehemently and publicly denied any move to jump ship,” a central leader said.