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Rahul's 'primary' experiment may be in trouble

January 31, 2014 19:13 IST

Rahul Gandhi's experiment of choosing Congress candidates for Lok Sabha polls through the ‘primary’ system appears to have suffered initial hiccups with two constituencies being dropped from the list of 16.

Soon after the list was made public on Thursday, the constituencies of Chandni Chowk and North West Delhi were removed from it, apparently as the sitting Members of Parliament and Union ministers Kapil Sibal and Krishna Tirath were uncomfortable with the arrangement.

The two constituencies figured in the list of 16 Lok Sabha seats for 'INC Primary' put out on the party website. But hours later, names of Chandni Chowk and North West Delhi were found deleted.

Under the 'primary' system, a political party or a political alliance nominates candidates for an election by short-listing them through an internal vote.

The constituencies where the candidate selection will be done through the ‘primary’ system now include Guwahati (Assam), Bhavnagar and Vadodara (Gujarat), Bangalore North and Daskshin Kanara (Karnataka), Indore and Mandsaur (Madhya Pradesh) Aurangabad and Yavatamal-Washim (Maharashtra), Bikaner and Jhunjhunu (Rajasthan) Sant Kabir Nagar and Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) and Kolkata North (West Bengal).

The Congress is the first national party to bring in such a process in India, the party said on its website.

Addressing the All India Congress Committee meeting on January 17, Rahul Gandhi had said, "In 15 constituencies in the Lok Sabha polls, we will finalise candidates by asking party workers. They will directly elect candidates".

This was interpreted as the party apparently taking the leaf out of the Aam Aadmi Party’s strategy to directly involve people in candidate selection.

Gandhi has been said that if the experiment works, it would be expanded to legislatures.

Meanwhile, AICC general secretary and five-time MP Gurudas Kamat has told Rahul Gandhi that his seat should be brought among the list of constituencies where candidate selection will be done through the primary system.

Kamat has represented Mumbai North East four times -- 1984, 1991, 1998, and 2004 -- in the Lok Sabha before he had to shift to Mumbai North West in 2009 due to delimitation.

Kamat hailed the selection of candidates through the primary system, saying, "This is the right way to gauge the mood of voters towards a candidate in a particular constituency."

He added, "I strongly believe that this programme espoused by Rahul Gandhi has to be made a success."

The ‘Congress primaries’ are on the lines of the democratic US presidential elections where party members elect their candidate.

Under the primaries, a representative section of party workers, leaders and other influencers, satisfying certain criteria, will decide the Congress candidate from their constituency by participating in a simple voting process.

Similarly, any eligible person satisfying certain clearly laid down requirements shall be accepted as a candidate for the primaries.

Primaries are one of the many ways by which a political party can decide its candidate for an upcoming election. It is a system which allows for a broader participation of party supporters in deciding who should be a candidate from their constituency from that party. It makes the ticket allotment process fair and more transparent.

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