The Congress is unlikely to repeat vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s experiment with US-style primaries in picking the candidates for the state elections due later this year.
Launched by Gandhi in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls as an attempt to democratise the Congress and end the ‘high-command culture’, the primaries failed miserably as not one candidate from the 16 chosen constituencies could register a win.
Not only this, the party faced stiff opposition to the move, which, in some constituencies, turned into a full-fledged rebellion when tickets were distributed.
Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand are due for elections later this year. Delhi, which is under the President’s Rule, may to have to go to the polls, too, with political situation continuing to be uncertain.
Gandhi had said, if successful, party workers would be allowed to pick candidates for their constituencies in all future elections, but it is unlikely.
“There is not much time left for assembly elections and conducting primaries needs good amount of time,” a senior party functionary said.
Immediately after the pilot project was launched ahead of the April-May general elections, it got caught in controversies.
Former union ministers Kapil Sibal and Krishna Tirath, who were both Delhi MPs, resisted the move. The party gave in and still the two lost the elections.
In the high-profile Vadodara constituency, the Congress replaced Narendra Rawat who was picked through primaries with party general secretary Madhusudan Mistry after the BJP named Narendra Modi its candidate. Mistry lost to Modi by more than three lakh votes.
Similarly, many other seats were changed on one pretext or the other. It was also found that in most constituencies, Congress workers either chose sitting MPs, senior party leaders or their relatives or close associates virtually defeating the purpose of the entire exercise. There were also charges of bogus voting and use of muscle and money power, drawing comparison to the Youth Congress elections that were marred by irregularities.