Even as the process of registering voters for the primary to elect the Congress candidate for Dakshina Kannada Lok Sabha seat has begun, a large section of the party workers feel ignored.

What has angered them the most is the chance given to district-level cooperative societies and some professional bodies while denying them a say in the choice of the candidate. The Congress primaries — a brainchild of party vice president Rahul Gandhi — are being held in 16 constituencies in India.

But the party workers – particularly the ones heading Block-level, ward-level and booth-level party units – said that they had been serving the party for 20 to 30 years but were ignored. “It is disastrous for the party. It will discourage the workers,” said Bharatesh Amin, president of Bajal ward committee. While office-bearers of the DCC, the KPCC and losing candidates for last Council elections have the voting power, why workers holding key positions at ward and booth levels should be kept out of it, asked Mr. Amin, who’s been a party worker for 30 years.

K.M. Durgaprasad, general secretary, South Block unit of the party, who has worked for 25 years for the party, said he and others had raised the denial of voting rights in a meeting on Sunday and the unit’s president Nagendra had promised to write to Mr. Gandhi.

Mr. Amin said people voted for the party mostly because of the rapport build by the booth-level and ward-level party functionaries and they all should be included in the process. The failure to accommodate them in the process would have an adverse impact when the party has to face a major challenge in the Lok Sabha elections.

While a district-level party functionary hoped that changes will be effecting on the next occasion, party workers who spoke to The Hindu said they wanted immediate changes. “Who knows when another primary will be held?” said one of them. Though party workers like Umesh Devadiga of Kankanadi, with 30 years of work for the party, is willing accept the format, he, too, is unhappy with the criteria for voter registration.

All India Congress Committee observer Pramod Kumar, who is in Mangalore, said the voters were being registered based on the 19 criteria already announced and there was no scope for any deviation from them.

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