Congress will not take action against party rebels
George Iype in New Delhi
In an effort to create a semblance of unity within the party, the Congress leadership has decided to withdraw action against the 40-odd members of Parliament who hobnobbed with the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Congress will, instead, give tickets to all sitting MPs.
This has been formally agreed upon by party president Sitaram Kesri and Sonia Gandhi, who is all set to kick off the Congress election campaign next week.
Earlier, the Congress leadership had threatened all rebel MPs with stern disciplinary action.
Kesri had deputed K Vijay Bhaskara Reddy, the senior leader from Andhra Pradesh, to investigate acts of indiscipline within the party.
As part of the strategy to make peace with the rebel leaders, the Maharashtra Congress committee has cleared the names of Datta Meghe and Praful Patel and offered both of
them constituencies of their choice. Both Meghe and Patel were all set to follow Suresh Kalmadi who quit the Congress last fortnight to float his own organisation in Pune.
Kesri is also under pressure from senior leaders who want him
to declare their nominations from constituencies of their choice as has been done in the case of leaders like R K Dhawan, Meira Kumar and J P Aggarwal from Delhi.
He has also conceded the demands from Congress Working Committee member Arjun Singh and former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao to contest the poll from Hoshangabad in Madhya Pradesh and Berhampur in Orissa respectively.
This has enraged senior leaders like Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy, K Karunakaran, Naval Kishore Sharma, Balram
Jakhar, N D Tiwari and Rajesh Pilot who say they should also be given constituencies of their choice as soon as possible.
Some of them have questioned Kesri's wisdom in declaring the constituencies of certain leaders as the CWC is yet to finalise the final list of candidates.
Nawal Kishore Sharma told Rediff On The NeT that as per party convention, the CWC, which has been converted into
the central election committee, is the sole authority empowered to screen and select candidates for the election.
"Announcing the names of some party leaders without consulting the CWC gives the impression that some Congress leaders are superior than others," Sharma said.
The Rajasthan leader added that all candidates need to be cleared by the scrutiny
committee and then by the central election committee.
Many in the party believe Kesri announced Dhawan's name from the New Delhi
constituency to pre-empt any move from the Sonia camp to deny the former Indira Gandhi loyalist a chance to contest the election.
Sources said Kesri readily agreed to Arjun Singh's request to contest from Hoshangabad to ensure that he does not incurs Sonia's wrath. Singh, who is considered close to Sonia, has changed his constituency from Satna
from where he lost the 1996 election.
While Rao is all set to contest from Berhampur in Orissa, Kesri has also cleared the name of his aide Ajit Jogi who will contest the Janjgir seat in Madhya Pradesh.
The final list of Congress candidates is expected to be out by January 13.
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