Before the Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, the Opposition Congress has put in place a new process to select candidates. Under the new system, every party worker can apply for a ticket and each applicant must fill a form and submit to the Congress block president.
The party has so far received around 1,900 applications for 90 seats. While some argue that the new process has deepened worker-leader interaction and democratised the process, others are worried that it will create a large pool of partymen upset over not getting tickets.
Explaining the process, Shailesh Nitin Trivedi, head of the Congress communication department in the state, said that by August 7, every applicant was asked to fill out a form and submit to the block president. “One coordinator has been appointed for each Assembly segment. Once the application is submitted, the coordinator and the block president approach the booth-level presidents and register their recommendations.
“Based on that, the block level and then the district level committees send recommendations for candidates. The state election committee adds its recommendations and then the screening committee sifts through the applications to whittle them down. The central election committee, chaired by party president Rahul Gandhi, will then make the final call,” he said. The Congress had announced on Wednesday that the Screening Committee will meet on August 25 to begin sifting through candidates.
Trivedi argued this process was a “true democratisation of the electoral process”. “Imagine a senior leader, who has been minister, going to a block level worker and submitting his application. The booth-and block-level worker feels empowered and a part of the process. The leaders are also reminded that the ground worker is important. This process ensures that candidate feedback comes from the grassroots,” Trivedi said.
The application, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, asks for past electoral experience, party work, social work and criminal history.
A senior party leader said, “In the past, there were two or three hopefuls per seat. Of course not everybody applying for a ticket actually believes they will get it. But of the 30, say the pool of actual hopefuls goes up to 10. So when one person gets the ticket, instead of two or three people to assuage, you have eight or nine.”
The basis on which candidates will be selected has become another subject of debate. Speaking at Raipur on August 8, Rahul said those who “arrive on parachutes” would not get tickets and those “connected to the ground” be preferred. A senior leader said, “Ultimately, winnability has to be the final criteria.”