Inspired by the Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party’s transparent process of selecting candidates for elections, the Congress has decided to follow a similar procedure in 16 parliamentary constituencies for the forthcoming Indian national elections
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in his recent address at the national meet of the party had praised the AAP’s transparent practice and had vowed that his party too would follow suit in a few constituencies on an experimental basis.
If it succeeded, the Congress in future would adopt this method, Gandhi said.
The party on Thursday announced 16 constituencies in which local party members would directly elect the candidates for the elections in April-May to the lower house (Lok Sabha) of parliament. In all, there are 543 constituencies.
The Congress proposal is being compared to the United States primaries where candidates of political parties are elected by party members.
The constituencies selected for the experiment include two in the national capital Delhi and one each in provincial capitals Bangalore and Kolkata. The 12 other constituencies are spread across at least six states, reports said.
Traditionally, in Indian politics, all major political parties including the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal have nominated candidates for elections based solely on the preference of their leadership.
To prevent revolts, political parties have always released the list of candidates on the eve of elections; in fact, the night before the last day for filing nominations.
Once the list is announced, it is common for those left out to sulk and rebel and in some cases reason enough to desert their parent parties to join rivals.
The AAP, in the run-up to the Delhi elections, surprised politicians by instituting a transparent system of candidate selection.
As per this process, contenders for a particular constituency opened themselves to public scrutiny and in a debate attended by party members had to convince them why they were the best candidate. Eventually, party members voted their choice of candidate.
While rival political parties did not initially take the AAP process seriously, once the party performed spectacularly in the Delhi polls, they sat up and took notice.