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Congress to fix accountability for Gujarat loss

The move to fix accountability comes nearly five years after the Congress adopted the Jaipur Declaration on January 20, 2013.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2018 07:58 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times
Gujarat elections,Gujarat,Gujarat polls
Ahmedabad: Congress party supporters celebrate after a party candidate's win in the Assembly elections, outside the Gujarat College counting centre in Amedabad on Monday. PTI Photo by Santosh Hirlekar (PTI12_18_2017_000076B)(PTI)

The Indian National Congress is reviewing the performance of candidates in the Gujarat election in juxtaposition with the identity of the Congress leaders who recommended them -- a move aimed at fixing responsibility for the performance of candidates on senior party men who recommend them, an idea that was first broached in a 2013 declaration by the party.

Balasaheb Thorat, the head of the party’s screening committee that shortlisted the candidates from hundreds of applicants in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recently submitted a report to party chief Rahul Gandhi, according to a leader familiar with the development. The leader asked not to be named.

Officially, the Congress refused to speak on it with party spokespersons maintaining that they have not been briefed about the report.

In his report, Thorat listed the reasons for the party’s loss in 102 seats. Out of the total 182 seats, the BJP won 99 while the Congress and its allies bagged 80.

Thorat’s report also identifies the leaders who recommended the names of defeated candidates, said another leader who was involved in the party’s election management in Gujarat.

On Friday, Gandhi met a team of observers who had been deputed to Gujarat for the assembly elections. The poll outcome was discussed in detail, said one of the observers at the meeting.

The move to fix accountability comes nearly five years after the Congress adopted the Jaipur Declaration on January 20, 2013.

In the declaration, the party made a strong case for an overhaul of the ticket distribution system. The document said it was important that when senior leaders recommend particular candidates they must own the responsibility in case of failure.

It also talked about ending nepotism in the organisational structure.

Another key part of the declaration was that winnability alone should not be the benchmark for deciding nominees during elections. A balance was required between loyalty and winnability, it added. A strong votary of intra-party democracy, Gandhi, after being appointed as the Congress vice-president in January 2013, vowed to end certain anomalies in the functioning of the party.

But five years later, the goal remains far from being achieved.

While the nomination culture in the party is yet to be eliminated, paratroopers (a term loosely used for political turncoats who switch parties at the time of elections) and outsiders continue to get tickets.

A Congress functionary said the review exercise will henceforth be carried out in all the assembly polls and the Lok Sabha elections as well.

First Published: Jan 21, 2018 23:29 IST