The Congress party seems to have already deviated from the stance it took at recent Chintan Shivir in Jaipur [ Images ] and gone back to old ways of functioning. Renu Mittal reports
The Congress has nominated and sent 42 observers for the Lok Sabha polls to gather information right down to the block level.
It is interesting that while Congressmen, including Rahul Gandhi [ Images ], spent considerable lung power in Jaipur criticising the manner outsiders were being propped up with key and significant positions while loyal Congressmen were ignored for top jobs, the party handpicked Madhusudan Mistry to exclusively deal with the observers.
Mistry, who is from Gujarat, has come to the Congress from the BJP-RSS fold and now sits in the All India [ Images ] Congress Committee as in charge of key states like Kerala [ Images ] and Karnataka [ Images ].
Mistry has rejected the contention that outsiders entering the Congress should neither be given any top posts for at least three years nor should they ask for them.
Similarly, Beni Prasad Verma, Rashid Masood and Raj Babbar have been made invitees to the Congress Working Committee despite being in other parties earlier.
On the issue of observers, each observer has been allocated 10 Lok Sabha constituencies. Each of them was armed with a heavy duty performa with voluminous information. Reportedly, the first round has already been completed and the entire information is now with Mistry.
The information includes how many candidates are likely to be in the fray from various parties, who are the Congress hopefuls wanting to contest, how many booths there are in each assembly constituency and the image of a candidate in each constituency in the media, amongst the workers and in the public.
From every block, the observer has to bring back at least 10 names, telephone numbers and addresses of people from different walks of life and different strata of society for Congress party’s data base.
The information also includes caste composition of the constituency, strong leaders and candidates from the opposition and past winners of the seats.
Those who have been made observers are either MLAs, MLCs or former MLAs taken from different states.
For example, one of the four victorious Congress MLAs from Bihar, Dr Javed who won from Kishangarh with just 250 votes has been made an observer for 10 UP Lok Sabha seats.
Most of them have given their reports after the first round of constituency tours.
It is interesting that the observers are holding meetings in every zilla and are being wooed by hopefuls from the area. They are being feted and looked after by ministers who want a favourable report regarding their constituencies.
Sources say the idea was for these observers to go quietly to these constituencies and do their work, but in the best traditions of the Congress party, they have been singing loudly about their mission, and in the process are available to be wooed by obliging partymen.