Ahead of the crucial election for the next Congress president, the party leadership has agreed to make a significant change to the polling process following a demand by a section of senior leaders.
Anyone who wants to file nomination for the post of Congress president will be able to see the list of all 9,000 delegates who make up the electoral college. This list will be available at the office of the party’s central election authority from September 20, Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry has said.
The move comes after five MPs, including Shashi Tharoor, Karti Chidambaram and Manish Tewari, had written to Mr Mistry, demading “transparency, fairness” in the election process.
The Congress President’s election will be held on October 17 and nominations can be filed from September 24 to 30.
Mr Mistry, who is the chairman of the party’s Central Election Authority, has said those seeking to contest the poll can check the names of 10 delegates from their state at the state Congress office.
Once the nomination is signed and handed over to the Chief Returning Officer, they will get the entire list of the delegates, he said in a letter to the MPs.
“If anyone desires to get nominations from ten supporters from different states, the list of all 9000+ delegates will be available in my office at AICC, Delhi from 20th September (11 AM to 6 PM), before they file their nomination on 24th September,” he added.
“They can come and choose their 10 supporters (delegates) from the list and obtain their (delegates) signature for nomination,” he said.
“This should resolve the anxiety of anybody about the process of filing their nominations without knowing the names of the delegates. Once the nomination is signed and handed over to the Chief Returning Officer, they will get the entire list of the delegates.
“I hope this satisfies the needs of you and other colleagues who have signed the letter. I express my gratitude to Shashi ji for calling and having a conversation with me on the same today,” Mr Mistry also said in his letter.
Welcoming the move, Mr Tharoor tweeted, “I am pleased that this clarification has come in the form of his constructive reply to our letter (attached). In view of these assurances, I am satisfied. Many will be glad to move on with an election process that in my view will only strengthen the party.”
The Congress presidential polls will take place against the backdrop of several high-profile exits, the latest being veteran parliamentarian and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. The exits have made louder calls for reforms within the party before it takes on the BJP in the 2024 general election.
Party leader Rahul Gandhi is now leading a Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir to rally support in the run-up to the election. Mr Gandhi, who stepped down as party president in 2019 and has refused the post since, said during the yatra, “Whether I will become Congress president or not will be clearer when party elections happen.” Currently, Sonia Gandhi is at the helm of the party.
Earlier, in their letter to Mr Mistry, five Congress MPs had said the electoral rolls should be securely provided to electors and potential candidates.
“We are not suggesting that any internal document of the party should be released in a manner that may give an opportunity to those who wish us ill to misuse the information contained therein,” the MPs wrote.
“We are rather of the firm opinion that before the commencement of the nomination process, the party’s Central Election Authority (CEA) must provide a list of Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) delegates that make up the electoral college,” their letter said.