Congress decentralises distribution of tickets
Till now, the Congress had three layers involved in ticket allocation for any poll – Pradesh Election Committee (PEC), Screening Committee and Central Election Committee (CEC).Updated: Mar 17, 2019 00:11 IST
In a major departure from the past, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has decentralised ticket distribution by giving a free hand to state units to identify deserving and winnable candidates for the April-May Lok Sabha elections, party leaders familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity.
Till now, the Congress had three layers involved in ticket allocation for any poll – Pradesh Election Committee (PEC), Screening Committee and Central Election Committee (CEC).
A state election panel would prepare a list of probable contenders, which would be pruned by the screening committee before it would be sent to the CEC for finalisation. But for the 2019 general elections, Gandhi has done away with screening committees and empowered state election panels to identify and finalise candidates. As a result, the role of the hitherto all-powerful CEC has been significantly reduced and, by and large, it will just vet the lists forwarded by state election panels, the leaders said. This method has been adopted for the three lists of 55 candidates released by the Congress so far, they added.
Congress spokesperson Pranav Jha said Gandhi had always believed in empowering state units, and always said on record that he prefers to do what his state units ask him.
The 13-member CEC is headed by the Congress president and comprises United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, ex-defence minister AK Antony, party treasurer Ahmed Patel, senior leader Janardan Dwivedi, general secretary in charge of Jammu and Kashmir Ambika Soni, Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and former Union ministers Girija Vyas, Mukul Wasnik, M Veerappa Moily, Oscar Fernandes and Mohsina Kidwai.
The Congress president had assured state unit chiefs at a meeting last month that they would have a free hand in ticket distribution for the Lok Sabha elections. Gandhi said he believed in empowering state leaders in organisational matters, including ticket distribution. However, he asked them to ensure that only deserving and winnable candidates are fielded. He said the candidate selection process should be more inclusive and maximum party stakeholders and workers should be involved in it.
Also, at the party’s 84th plenary session in Delhi last year, the Congress chief had resolved to pick loyalists over paratroopers during ticket distribution.
Earlier too, Gandhi had made similar promises, asserting that leaders from other parties parachute in just before the elections and fly away after getting defeated. But the norms were often flouted in the garb of the winnability factor that is ultimately the sole criterion for selection of candidates