The fear of dissidents playing the spoilsport in Rajasthan has prompted the Congress to initiate efforts to persuade rebel candidates to withdraw from the contest.
The Congress leadership on Wednesday rushed Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, known for his organisational skills, to Jaipur to reconcile with the rebel candidates.
Azad, Gurudas Kamat, Congress general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan affairs, and state leaders held a meeting in Jaipur to discuss the rebel factor and evolve a strategy to negate its impact.
Congress managers are hopeful the rebels, who they claim are few in number, will fall in line by November 16, the last date for withdrawal of nominations for the December 1 assembly elections.
The desperate push to contain rebels came after the party’s latest internal survey predicted an edge for the Congress over the BJP in the run up to the elections.Barring a few exceptions, the Congress has strictly followed party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s norms for ticket distribution.
In a balancing act, no single leader was given a free hand in ticket distribution. “No leader could influence the selection of candidates,” a leader involved in the process said.
The selection of candidates, he said, matched an internal survey and reports by observers tasked with studying the constituencies.
In an attempt to reach out to the weaker sections, the party, in a rare move, has fielded six candidates from reserved categories on general seats.
The party has dropped or shifted as many as 21 out of the 96 sitting legislators.
Congress leaders are confident that the Ashok Gehlot government’s welfare programmes, especially the free medicine scheme, will pay rich electoral dividends and help the party retain power in the state.