Distinction made between candidates with serious charges and those booked under preventive sections
After day-long deliberations on the ticket distribution issue at the Congress war room on Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Road on Tuesday, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president J.P. Agarwal on Thursday presented a formula to the party Screening Committee, debarring those involved in heinous crimes from getting the party ticket for the upcoming Delhi Assembly elections.
As for the restriction on candidates with previous criminal records, Ms. Dikshit and Mr. Agarwal were in unison that distinction should be made between those involved in serious or heinous criminal offences and those who have been booked under various preventive sections or while carrying out political protests.
The issue of criminalisation of politics has been at the centre stage of Congress politics ever since party vice-president Rahul Gandhi recently criticised the ordinance brought in by the United Progressive Alliance Government for protecting the rights of elected representatives who had been convicted by courts. In Delhi, four MLAs are learnt to have serious criminal charges against them and the clamour is growing for cleansing the polity.
This apart, the two leaders have also decided that they would not go by the formula of having a three-name panel from every Assembly segment and if need be, even single names could be forwarded or the panel could have up to even five names. Ms. Dikshit’s insistence on the “winner to continue” formula for the sitting MLAs also appears to have paid off and the two leaders told the Screening Committee that they would submit a final list of shortlisted candidates before it within the next two days.
This formula, party insiders said, would, while helping promote the cause of the sitting MLAs, keep all the prominent ticket aspirants from at least all the 28 constituencies, where the Congress had lost in 2008, in running for the party candidature. Ms. Dikshi and Mr. Agarwal also told the Screening Committee — which is headed by MP V. Narayanswamy and comprises MP Bhubhaneswar Kalita and All India Congress Committee general secretary in-charge of Delhi Shakeel Ahmed — that if from any constituency they would not agree on any name, then they would each give their preferences with their respective signatures.
While under the new formula, the candidature of all the sitting MLAs and other key players remains intact, it has brought to a nought the impact of the exercise undertaken by Mr. Gandhi of getting observers to shortlist three candidates from each constituency and that by the DPCC to get its block and district office-bearers to similarly recommend three names each from every segment.