For the first time in two decades, the AICC headquarters is swarmed by ticket seekers from Bihar bringing the 'feel good' effect, which the Congress never had since the Mandal politics dominated the state.
Thousands of ticket seekers from the state have been camping in Delhi and making rounds to the AICC headquarters for the last one week and of the leaders who are involved in the process of ticket selection.
"The crowd of ticket seekers has been massive. We never expected such a response in a state where we have been out of power for two decades," a senior party leader admitted. The vicinity of 24, Akbar Road, the headquarters of the party, wears a festive look with vehicles of the ticket seekers leading to traffic snarls.
The crowd has been so huge that the canteen in the party office often runs out of food while doing a brisk business throughout the day. Leaders attribute this response to factors like the emergence of Rahul Gandhi as a key factor in the polls and his ability to transform the goodwill of the people into electoral advantage like he did in Uttar Pradesh in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
Moreover, this is for the first time in recent years that the Congress is contesting all the 243 seats alone and not as a junior partner of parties like the Lalu Prasad led RJD and the Ram Vilas Paswan led LJP.
"After a political divorce with the RJD and the LJP in the last Lok Sabha elections, the strategy of the party to go alone is paying rich dividends. The response shows that the Congress always had the cadres but they were lying dormant for the last few years," another leader from Bihar said.
The most sought after leaders whom every ticket aspirant wants to meet are AICC General Secretary in-charge of the state Mukul Wasnik and B K Hariprasad, chairman of the Screening Committee. Due to the massive response, the Screening Committee of which Wasnik is also a member, has been continuously meeting for the last three days and would continue to do so for another day or two to shortlist the names for the Central Election Committee.
The Screening Committee is expected to prune the list to three names from each of the 243 assembly constituencies. The CEC is likely to deliberate on these names on September 23 to choose the final list of the party candidates.
Party sources maintained that around 200 candidates could be declared in the first list so that they get enough time for preparations and electioneering. Elections in the state will be held in six-phases, beginning October 21 while counting will take place on November 24 to determine who rules the state for the next five years.