With no other Congress member entering the contest, sitting MP from New Delhi constituency Ajay Maken was on Thursday elected unanimously in the party primary for choosing the candidate for the coming Lok Sabha polls.
New Delhi parliamentary constituency is one of the two Lok Sabha seats in the Capital where the party is holding US-style primaries to decide its candidate. The experiment is the brainchild of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi. The Congress was relegated to the third place in all the 10 Assembly segments in the New Delhi seat during the recent State elections.
“We received the nomination of Ajay Maken only. Now a convention would be held where the official candidate will share his views and ideas with the party members who were registered as voters for the primaries. Mr. Maken’s name would then be put before the Central Election Committee,” said Netta D’Souza, AICC member from Dadar and Nagar Haveli, appointed returning officer for the New Delhi seat.
Speaking to reporters after filing his nomination, Mr. Maken claimed that “he enjoyed the faith of his workers” and he had the support of over 230 of the eligible 303 voters.
Party sources, however, attributed different reasons for no other leader filing nomination from the seat. “Everybody is wary of the electoral prospects in the upcoming polls. The party candidates were pushed to the third place in all the Assembly seats in the constituency. Moreover, he is a national general secretary who is perceived to enjoy the confidence of Rahul Gandhi. So party leaders would not like to be seen on the wrong side of the fence at this stage,” said a Congress leader.
Primary for selecting the party nominee for the North-East Lok Sabha seat, represented by Jai Prakash Agarwal, will be held on March 11. The nomination for the seat would be held on March 4. Unlike the New Delhi seat, more party members are likely to file their nominations.
Former MP Jagdish Tytler, whose candidature was withdrawn by the party during the last Lok Sabha polls due to protests over his alleged role in 1984 anti-Sikh riots, told The Hindu that he would file nomination for the North-East seat.
“I have never been named in any case registered till date. And as far as the perception of people is concerned, I have represented a Lok Sabha seat which has a dominant Sikh population. And they have been voting for me all along,” said Mr. Tytler.