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Mixed feelings about Cong interviews for assembly elections
Vijay Singh in Mumbai |
September 14, 2004 02:27 IST
Vasantrao Itkelwar, 72, an independent seeking to contest in the state assembly elections on a Congress ticket, is preparing to appear in an interview before the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee panel.
Itkelwar, an elected Maharashtra assembly member from the Umred assembly seat, is one of about 1,000 waiting since morning for an interview.
After the interview, he said he had been confident he would get a ticket because Congress President Sonia Gandhi had promised party tickets for all independent MLAs supporting the Sushilkumar Shinde government in the state. The interviews were a new wrinkle introduced by the party, said Itkelwar.
"Most of the interviewers were junior to me, and I replied [their questions] very confidently," he said.
The candidate presented their bio-datas and newspaper cuttings about their work to the interviewers. They were asked questions about their work and their enthusiasm for it.
While some candidates were very happy with the new selection procedure, some believed it was a farce. A nervous candidate emerging from the interview said, "The candidate's name is already decided. The party's conducting interviews to show picks a candidate democratically. This is a drama to generate party funds."
There were 1,519 applicants, each paying the party 10,000 rupees as application fees.
Senior Congress leaders, including Vilashrao Deshmukh, Prabha Rau, A R Antulay and Vilas Muttemwar, interviewed the candidates Sunday and Monday.
Satyendra Gedam, 29, a member of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation, seeks to contest the assembly elections from Nagpur.
Young and confident, Gedam said, "I'm not rich, I don't have any godfather in politics. Still I'm sure the party will give me a ticket because I belong to a tribe and I have good support wihin the community. If the party wants to minimize the presence of the Gondwana Gantantra Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in Vidarbha, it will have to promote tribal candidates like me."
The Congress lost 10 of 11 Parliament seats in Vidharbha in the recently held elections that saw the BSP emerge a force to reckon with in the region.
Immediately after the election date was announced, interested candidates started lobbying to get party tickets.
But the current practice of interviewing candidates has reduced animosity in the rank and file, and observers believe this exercise will minimize revolt within the party.