Tuesday, Nov 25, 2014

Rahul’s test: Congressmen seeing changes in party as his vision for long term

Written by D K Singh | Posted: November 24, 2013 12:27 am

On December 4,as the curtain comes down on what are billed as the semi-finals before next year’s general elections,both Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi would be keeping their fingers crossed. However,as results stream in four days later,the two know they would be judged differently. A setback to the BJP would reflect on its prime ministerial candidate — and seen as the absence of any “Modi wave”. Conversely,BJP success would be attributed to its chief ministerial candidates and their personal charisma and appeal. On the other hand,while Congressmenwould scramble to take the blame for any setback on December 8,a positive outcome would go to Rahul’s credit.

This time,though,Rahul could step up and claim this justifiably. For,since he virtually took over the party’s reins after being made the Congress vice-president in January this year,Rahul has put his stamp on the party with his leadership style and election management. These polls are the first test of that.

The candidate selection

If there is one area where the change is most visible and has caused the most heartburn,it is in the candidate selection process for the Assembly polls and the 2014 general elections. His team ran the operation from the beginning to the end. A profile of each constituency and potential candidates — running into over a 100 pages each — was prepared with the help of three independent surveys. The District Congress Committees sent their lists and then the Pradesh Election Committee sent the final list to the AICC Screening Committee. By the time it came to the Central Election Committee (CEC),headed by Sonia Gandhi,it came down to one candidate for each constituency in “over 95 per cent cases”. So while the CEC comprising party veterans formally took a decision on the candidates,the lists were virtually finalised before they came to the committee.

Apart from the surveys to identify the candidates for each Lok Sabha constituency,Rahul sent AICC general secretary Madhusudan Mistry as a one-man army to prepare a separate list of candidates. “The party already has a list of all constituencies,their profiles,potential candidates,etc. Many candidates have even been sounded out,” says a party functionary involved in the exercise.

The selection for the Assembly polls was done by the screening committees on the basis of a multi-page manual. It prescribed criteria like denial of tickets to those who had lost the last two consecutive elections or had lost their deposits in the last poll. Any exceptions could only be cleared by the CEC.

The party posts

Rahul’s team is in the process of preparing another manual for AICC general secretaries to define their authority and functions. Every quarter,Rahul holds a meeting with the AICC general secretary in-charge of a state,the PCC chief and Congress Legislative Party leader of every state and gives them guidelines and targets.

Minutes of internal party meetings are kept for future references and to fix accountability. Besides,two email IDs have been given to AICC general secretaries and secretaries to keep him updated and to report to him their work by the continued…

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