By Yogesh Sharma
Congress in Gujarat has decided to focus only on one criterion for ticket for Assembly elections scheduled in December this year- winnability of the candidate. In the 2012 elections party had many strict conditions besides the chances of a candidate of winning election. Until last month Congress leaders were asserting that they would be quite strict in the selection of candidates.
This change in the selection procedure this time is said to be result of pressure of ticket seekers and the party does not want any kind avoidable risk. Last time stalwarts like Narhari Amin and some others had quit party when they were denied ticket as they did not fulfill the other conditions.
Party had given indication that it would not give ticket to the aspirants of age of 70 years plus, those who lost last election by a margin of more than 20000 votes and those who lost two preceding elections. However, party president Bharat Solanki who returned from Delhi after attending the meeting of the screening committee said that there was no condition this time.
Similarly, party has been delaying the announcement of the names of its candidates even though last year Bharat Solanki and later even other senior leaders had announced that the candidates’ names would be announced very well in advance.
Last month the party had announced that all 43 sitting MLAs would get ticket. The announcement was result of a revolt in the party in which 14 of its MLAs including leader of Congress Legislature Party Shankarsinh Vaghela had resigned and voted in favour of BJP candidates. This had put the Rajya Sabha membership of Ahmed Patel senior Congress leader and political advisor to Sonia Gandhi at stake.
He managed to win by a wafer thin majority when election commission cancelled votes of two rebels. This has been challenged by Balwant Rajput a rebel Congress MLA who was the third BJP candidate. Rajput lost the election as Ahmed Patel was declared winner.
Party could save these 43 because of prompt action of taking 44 MLAs away from Gujarat. Even then, one MLA cross voted and voted in favour of BJP.
To teach rebels a lesson, party this week launched a sharply focused campaign in the constituencies of these former 14 Congress MLAs.