Responding to a joint letter from five of the party’s Lok Sabha MPs seeking transparency in the election process for the post of Congress president, the party on Saturday agreed to share the list of Pradesh Congress Committee delegates that make up the electoral college to aspirant candidates before the nomination process starts.
On Friday, The Indian Express reported that in the letter written by Lok Sabha MPs Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari, Karti Chidambaram, Pradyut Bordoloi and Abdul Khaleque, they demanded that the “list must be made available in order to verify who is entitled to nominate a candidate and who is entitled to vote”.
Replying to Tharoor, on whose letterhead the letter was written, Madhusudan Mistry, who is the chairman of the Congress Central Election Authority, wrote: “I note your concern and appreciate your intention of strengthening the party and therefore to have a free, fair and transparent election of the Congress President.”
Mistry wrote that “the first avenue open for any delegate to file a nomination for the Congress President election is — they can look for the names of the 10 supporters (delegates) in their state at the Pradesh Congress Committee office. The name and the serial number are available in the state list. The nomination signed by 10 supporters (delegates) will be sufficient for validity of the nomination.”
Mistry’s letter stated: “For the first time, we are also issuing QR code based identity cards to all the delegates across the 28 States and 9 Union Territories that have Congress Committees. Those who want to file a nomination should check if they have a delegate identity card available with them. Only people with valid identity cards will be allowed to sign on the nomination papers for the position of the Congress President.”
Further, he wrote: “If anyone desires to get nominations from ten supporters from different states, the list of all 9000+ delegates will be available in my office at AICC, Delhi from 20th September (11 AM to 6 PM), before they file their nomination on 24th September. They can come and choose their 10 supporters (delegates) from the list and obtain their (delegates) signature for nomination.”
The letter stated: “This should resolve the anxiety of anybody about the process of filing their nominations without knowing the names of the delegates. Once the nomination is signed and handed over to the Chief Returning Officer, they will get the entire list of the delegates. I hope this satisfies the needs of you and other colleagues who have signed the letter.”
It is learnt that Mistry spoke to Tharoor before writing to him and the other MPs. Taking to Twitter, Tharoor posted: “I stressed that as loyal Congressmen we were seeking clarification, not confrontation. I am pleased that this clarification has come in the form of his constructive reply to our letter… In view of these assurances, I am satisfied. Many will be glad to move on with an election process that in my view will only strengthen the party.”
Karti echoed Tharoor’s sentiments. “As a signatory to the letter along with my parliamentary colleagues, I am satisfied with the reply from Mistry ji & I endorse the sentiments of my senior colleague Shashi Tharoor,” he tweeted.
As a signatory to the letter along with my parliamentary colleagues, I am satisfied with the reply from @MD_Mistry ji & I endorse the sentiments of my senior colleague @ShashiTharoor https://t.co/34IVH3jMft
— Karti P Chidambaram (@KartiPC) September 10, 2022
In their letter to Mistry, the Lok Sabha MPs had said: “We are not suggesting that any internal document of the party should be released in a manner that may give an opportunity to those who wish us ill to misuse the information contained therein.”
“We are rather of the firm opinion that before the commencement of the nomination process, the party’s Central Election Authority (CEA) must provide a list of Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) delegates that make up the electoral college. This list must be made available in order to verify who is entitled to nominate a candidate and who is entitled to vote,” they had said.
The MPs had said: “In case the CEA has any concerns with respect to releasing the electoral rolls publicly, it must put in place a mechanism to securely share this information with all electors and potential candidates. Electors and candidates cannot be expected to go to all 28 PCCs and 9 Union Territorial units across the country to verify the electoral rolls.”
The MPs wrote that such a move “will remove any unwarranted arbitrariness from the election process. As long as this demand is met, our concern about transparency — a sine qua non in any free and fair election — will be met”.