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Bihar polls: Rahul’s norms go for a toss, loyalists left out

india Updated: Sep 29, 2015 00:46 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times
Rahul Gandhi

India's opposition Congress party vice president Rahul Gandhi speaks during a farmers rally in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015. (AP)

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s parameters for ticket distribution have come a cropper again, this time in Bihar, where “paratroopers” got preference over “loyalists” as party candidates for the high-stakes state polls.

Sources in the Bihar Congress said five to six discards from other parties such as the BJP, Lok Janshakti Party and even alliance partner Janata Dal (United), were given tickets for the upcoming elections at the cost of “deserving” candidates from their party.

“Gandhi’s norms for ticket distribution were completely violated. He had laid out specific guidelines but none were adhered to,” a Congress leader said.

Soon after his anointment as the Congress vice-president at Jaipur in January 2013, Gandhi resolved to give block, district and state units a greater say in candidate selection. He also stated “paratroopers, rebels, discards and outsiders” will not be accommodated in the organisation or given party tickets.

As part of the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) along with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and JD(U), the Congress got a share of 41 seats but won’t be contesting in 13 of the 38 districts in the state.

“There will be no Congress presence in all these districts and this will surely impact the Congress revival across the state,” another leader said.

Soon after the alliance was firmed up, the Congress made it clear that tickets would only be given to committed leaders and workers and those who have organisational experience in student and youth wings. “The idea was to build a team of future leaders from different castes,” said another party leader.

However, several former NSUI and Youth Congress chiefs and those who had risen from the ranks are said to have been denied tickets.

The heartburn over the denial of tickets forced three-time legislator and former state chief Ram Jatan Sinha to quit the party. Sinha, who was recently appointed the state manifesto committee chairman, blamed current state chief Ashok Chowdhary for his exit.