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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

Rahul eyes US-style primaries to pick candidates

Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 14, 2014
First Published: 00:00 IST(14/1/2014) | Last Updated: 12:19 IST(14/1/2014)

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is all set to introduce new system for ticket distribution where party workers will vote for applicants for a particular seat and the candidate with the highest votes will get the ticket.

The party will form an electoral college of booth, blocks and district level workers in each assembly and parliamentary constituency. The college will then vote for applicants in the fray for a party ticket.

A senior party functionary said the new system will be taken up as a pilot project in some states in the coming Lok Sabha elections. “It will be later followed strictly in all elections. This is in line with Rahul Gandhi’s efforts to make the ticket distribution system more open and transparent,” he said.

The move towards transparency comes as the Congress is forced to change its strategy for the Lok Sabha polls after the success of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi.

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The new process is based on the primary system in the United States where voters choose between candidates who will fight an election for a particular party. The primary system was introduced to transfer the right to elect a presidential candidate from a selected few to the voters.

The primary system has also been partially adopted by the AAP which scrutinises candidates at three levels. The district committees first conduct preliminary background checks followed by state panels that evaluate shortlisted candidates on a number of parameters. The final level is the political affairs committee which distributes tickets.

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Rahul Gandhi had recently hinted at such a change in the selection process when he had said, “We are taking the decision about giving tickets under a new process. Discussions on it about various states have been taking place within our party for a long time.”

Gandhi had laid great emphasis on giving grassroots workers a major say in the selection of candidates during his tenure as the party vice-president. The screening process for selection of candidates has always been a critical element of the Congress strategy and Gandhi seeks to address this issue through the new system.

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