WITH ASSEMBLY polls in Karnataka barely a month away, the Congress party is taking no chances in the ticket distribution of candidates. Unlike in the past, this is the first time that members of the party’s Screening Committee met senior ministers from the state at the Centre. This is deviating from the norm, where the Screening Committee relies on reports sent by observers. After due consultations the committee forwarded the names to the 14- member central election committee (CEC) of the party — the party body for allocating tickets.
The CEC also met former external affairs minister SM Krishna. Though Krishna has been sulking for some time now, the party has succeeded in its efforts to woo him.
Many senior party leaders in the state wanted a say in the distribution of tickets. Although, these leaders don’t command state-wide influence they can pull down the party in three to four Assembly segments. That is the reason for having a larger base of consultation before finalising the candidate list. At no stage does the Congress want to disturb the balance in the state, and as usual, is tight-lipped on its choice of the CM candidate.
The party is also attempting this experiment in the state with an eye on the 2014 General Election. Every candidate who is put up by the Congress will have a referee sheet on his file. The sheet consists of four columns with the name of the candidate, his/her constituency, and his/her reference. The fourth column will remain blank until the results are announced. The idea is that if a party functionary refers a candidate and he/she loses, there should be valid reasons for referring. Sources in the party say this exercise is not an attempt at finding faults with leaders but to ascertain the causes of loss when they take place. It is also felt that all this data will help the party in analysing Lok Sabha candidates in the state.
Party insiders say the Congress has made up its mind to distribute 30-35 tickets on the recommendations of senior leaders from the state. The logic is that if the success rate is about 60 percent then the Congress romps home successfully. Though, it goes without saying that caste considerations and local sensitivities would be kept in mind before finally announcing the candidates.
Meanwhile, party workers have taken to the street protesting against the deliberations of the screening committee. According to sources, they are protesting the one-upmanship shown by state unit chief Dr G Parameshwar in distributing tickets. Parameshwar, however, maintains that the final list has not been announced yet, and that the concerns of the workers will be given their due. The final list of Congress candidates is expected to be released anytime soon.