Congress has issued seven strict guidelines for the presidential election, the most important of which is Clause 3, which clearly states: “AICC General Secretaries, CLP leaders shall not campaign for or against any candidate in the competition. But if they wish to do so, they must first resign from their organizational post.”
The first breach came from Rajasthan Prime Minister Ashok Gehlot, who strongly advocated Mallikarjun Kharge in a video released Wednesday, urging all voting delegates to “support Kharge and ensure he wins by a large margin”.
This could be seen by some as an attempt to sway delegates, particularly from his state of Rajasthan. However, the Congressional Electoral Committee says since Gehlot was a nominator for Kharge, he can run for the veteran leader.
Delegates and their “impartiality” remain a gray area. There are a total of 9,000 delegates who will cast their ballots from across the country, and the strength and number of delegates is based on the size of the states.
Although the party says no one has been told how to vote and it is a secret ballot, the fact is the delegates are in touch with top leaders. “They will vote in the direction the wind is blowing,” a source said.
The list of claimants is a clear sign of how the dice are loaded in Kharge’s favour. For example, nine CWC members, seven former cabinet ministers, five G-23 members, three former prime ministers and one current prime minister propose Kharge. It is clear that these influential proposers will have influence in their respective states. And while on paper delegates are free to vote for whoever they want, it’s obvious they can be swayed.
The voting or election of the delegates must not be unequivocal either. For example, at the booth level, staff vote for delegates. But powerful leaders may have a powerful say in deciding who is the booth-level worker who will vote for the delegate.
“For example, Pramod Tiwari is a powerful leader in UP and may be one of the few congressional leaders who know stand workers by name. So it’s entirely possible that he can influence the stand workers and the election of delegates,” the source said.
In many ways, this election is an opportunity for Congress to show that, unlike others, the top job is competitive. But as Shashi Tharoor and his supporters clamor for preferential treatment, all is clearly not well. These polls and election ads clearly give the impression that Kharge is the chosen one.
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