Apart from sitting MP Jai Prakash Agarwal, nominations for the Congress primaries, aimed at selecting the party nominee from the North-East Lok Sabha seat, will also be filed by former MLA from Patel Nagar, Rajesh Lilothia, on Tuesday.
Also in the fray is former MP Jagdish Tytler. Tytler’s candidature for the last Lok Sabha elections was withdrawn by the party due to protests over his alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. For now, Tytler said he was still “undecided”.
The North-East parliamentary constituency, along with the New Delhi constituency, are the two Lok Sabha seats in Delhi where the Congress is conducting US-style primaries to decide its candidate.
The experiment, which was initiated by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, was aimed at increasing the participation of grassroot level workers in the selection process of their own candidates.
But, the experiment backfired during the New Delhi primary, when no Congress member chose to contest against Ajay Maken, the general secretary and a close aide of Rahul Gandhi.
But for Agarwal, who resigned as the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief after the party’s worst ever drubbing in the last Assembly elections in the capital, the primaries threaten to be much more complicated.
Lilothia, a former youth Congress and Dalit leader, climbed the ranks within the party but did poorly in the Assembly elections, finishing third in the Patel Nagar Assembly seat with only 24 per cent votes.
“The experiment is incredible, because it allows me — a young, Dalit leader — to contest from a general seat. No other party is similarly democratic and the process is an excellent way of making the party structure more democratic,” Lilothia said.
While sources in the party said Tytler had expressed interest in filing for nomination from the North-East Lok Sabha primary, he seemed to be playing his cards close to the chest.
“I haven’t yet decided. I am not ruling out anything, though,” he said.
He added that speculation about the impact of his alleged involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots was baseless. “I have never been named in a case registered against me. These allegations are baseless,” he said.