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Five Congress MPs write to Mistry, express concern over transparency, fairness of party chief polls

NEW DELHI: Five Congress MPs have written to AICC central election authority chief Madhusudan Mistry expressing concern about the "transparency and fairness" of the party chief's election and sought that the list of PCC delegates that make up the electoral college be provided to all electors and potential candidates.

In a joint letter to Mr. Mistry dated September 6, Congress's Lok Sabha members Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari, Karti Chidambaram, Pradyut Bordoloi and Abdul Khaleque said this list must be made available in order to verify who is entitled to nominate a candidate and who is entitled to vote.

"In case the CEA [Central Election Authority] has any concerns with respect to releasing the electoral rolls publicly, it must put in place a mechanism to securely share this information with all electors and potential candidates," the letter said.

Electors and candidates cannot be expected to go to all 28 Pradesh Congress Committees (PCCs) and nine Union Territorial units across the country to verify the electoral rolls, the MPs said in their communication to Mr. Mistry.

They said that as Congress MPs, they are concerned about the transparency and fairness of the election process for the president of the party.

"It is unfortunate that an erroneous interpretation is being given to our demand of releasing electoral rolls. 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 said.

They said that they are of the firm opinion that before the commencement of the nomination process, the party's CEA must provide a list of PCC delegates that make up the electoral college.

The MPs said that providing the list will remove any unwarranted arbitrariness from the election process. "As long as this demand is met, our concern about transparency a sine qua non in any free and fair election will be met," the letter said.

The letter came a day after the party launched its ambitious ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra' from Kanyakumari to Kashmir on Wednesday.

Speaking on the party's polls, Rahul Gandhi on Friday said at a press conference in Kanyakumari that he has made his decision on whether he will take up the party presidency but did not divulge his plans. He said he will give his reasons if he does not contest the upcoming elections for the post.

Asked if he would become the Congress president, he said, "Whether I become president or not, this will become very clear when the presidential elections of the Congress party take place."

Wait till that time. When that time happens [comes], you will see. And if I don't stand, you can ask me ‘why didn't you stand' and I will answer the question for you," Mr. Gandhi told reporters.

Sources said Mr. Tharoor and Mr. Bordoloi had written separate letters to Mr. Mistry earlier as well seeking the publication of the electoral rolls.

Mr. Tharoor and Mr. Tewari were among the group of 23 leaders who had written to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in 2020 seeking an organisational overhaul. Mr. Tharoor is contemplating running for the post of party president.

Last month, Mr. Tewari and Mr. Chidambaram, along with Mr. Tharoor, had demanded that the electoral rolls be made public to ensure transparency.

Mr. Tewari had raised objections to Congress not making public the names of the electors for the polls to elect the next party president and said the list must be published on the All India Congress Committee (AICC) website for a "free and fair" process.

Mr. Mistry, however, has maintained that the election is being held transparently and the entire poll process is free and fair.

He had said that according to the party's constitution, the electoral rolls cannot be made public but they can be provided to anyone contesting the election.

The notification for the Congress president's election will be out on September 22 and the process for filing nominations will be held from September 24 to 30.

The last date for the withdrawal of nominations is October 8 and the election, if required, will be held on October 17. The results will be out on October 19.


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