The fear of defeat is keeping many Congress leaders, including ministers and functionaries, away from contesting the coming Lok Sabha elections. A few others are looking for safe seats.
Party sources said several central ministers and party office bearers were yet to apply for tickets from their constituencies.
The sources attributed the move to various opinion poll predictions that suggest a “difficult” 2014 parliamentary elections for the Congress. Besides, the party’s own assessment about the poll outcome is also not encouraging.
This has also triggered a rat race among leaders as many of them have conveyed to the leadership their desire to work for the organisation.
They are apparently taking shelter under a rule formulated during the ‘chintan shivir’ at Jaipur in January last year according to which AICC general secretaries, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chiefs and other office bearers were exempted from contesting polls.
The idea was to ensure the party’s election management and supervision did not suffer in case the functionaries were allowed to contest the polls. On its part, the leadership has decided to “suitably accommodate” them in terms of nominations to the Rajya Sabha or legislative councils in states.
The party has started implementing this by nominating senior general secretary Digvijaya Singh and former union minister Kumari Selja to the Rajya Sabha. Singh holds the charge of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka apart from Goa while Selja, a prominent Dalit face of the party in Haryana and a Lok Sabha MP from Ambala, resigned as the union minister to devote more time to the organisation.
But another section favours the formula and wants the leadership to field all union ministers in the coming polls. This section is also against any move by sitting MPs to shift their constituencies and move to “safer” seats.