In a bid to ensure that it fields popular candidates in the 2017 Assembly polls, Congress has made it mandatory for ticket aspirants to furnish testimonies from at least 15 voters from each booth under their respective assembly constituency. The move, party leaders said, was an attempt to “strengthen the grassroots”. According to the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC), this condition was pre-requisite even to qualify for the ticket race.
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In Vadodara, September 30 is the deadline to file applications for candidature and so far, 15 leaders have sent their requests to the GPCC, staking claim to five Assembly constituencies here.
For instance, an aspiring candidate from Raopura assembly constituency, which has around 245 booths with each having up to 1,200 listed voters, requires to furnish at least 3,675 testimonies.
Top party leaders said the move has deterred many “insignificant” applications. “The party has realised that it needs to strengthen the grassroots. Most leaders in the party are not connected with the grassroots. This step is an attempt to ensure that there are people working at the booth level… Plus, it (the decision) can help gauge the popularity of a leader and avoid infighting,” said a Congress member who submitted his application for a ticket.
In fact, the city unit of the party has extended help to aspiring candidates in gathering the mandatory voters’ testimonies, which would be verified by the state executive of the party.
“We helped the leaders with voter lists, but the idea of getting 15 testimonies allows us to plan booth-wise campaigning and strengthening of the party, ahead of the polls. These 15 people will work for the leader and the party and will be given responsibility in their areas… The current scenario is in the favour of the party and we want to leverage on that. The party has decided to reconnect with the voters,” said city unit chief Prashant Patel.
However, not all leaders felt that the idea would help benefit the party. Party’s city unit vice-president and advocate Shailesh Amin, who has also sought a ticket, said, “This approach will result in groupism as it allows apirants to bring in their own group of people to work for them. In case, an aspiring candidate is denied ticket, the people will not work for any another candidate.”