Encouraged by a moderate victory in 121 Assembly segments in Karnataka, which was possible because of the systematic efforts at various levels over several months, the Congress is contemplating replicating the experiment in other States such as Jharkhand to achieve similar success there in the Assembly elections due this year.
Unlike elections in the past, when the party high command allocated ticket to candidates on the basis of recommendations by some top central/state leaders, the AICC Election Committee sent its observers to all the 224 Assembly segments, and they collected information about local leaders who could be considered for being fielded in the elections.
This was followed by another visit by observers deputed by the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, and a private agency was entrusted with the job of ascertaining the background of “strong” candidates.
All the information was pooled and then the various party outfits such as the State Election Committee and the Screening Committee were constituted to go through some 2,250 applications received from ticket-seekers and it was brought down to 600.
The list of 600 names was further vetted in New Delhi where party president Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, who is also chairman of the Election/Screening Committee, and AICC general secretary in-charge of Karnataka Madhusudhan Mistry, KPCC president G. Parameshwara and then Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah were involved.
An important decision, according to insiders, was that the party gave enough funds for each candidate to fight the polls and did not “beg” any top State leader to look after so many constituencies.
In fact, it made the selection of the Chief Minister easier.
What was interesting was that any leader who strongly recommended the name of a candidate or two was asked whether he would take the responsibility if his or her followers were defeated.
This was enough for them to backtrack, facilitating the high command to finalise the names on the basis of the information gathered.
It succeeded in cajoling some rebels to withdraw, but was firm against giving ticket to those from Bharatiya Janata Party/Janata Dal (Secular), which boosted its image.