After poll drubbing, Rahul Gandhi's 'primary' experiment failed to find any takers

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Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi
After its humiliating defeat in recently concluded Lok Sabha poll, the Congress is in no mood to carry on with the experiment of vice-president Rahul Gandhi anymore. The party leaders has shown reluctance to Rahul's primaries experiment in picking candidates for the State Assembly elections scheduled later this year.

The pet project of Rahul was launched before the Lok Sabha polls with an attempt to democratise the party and end the ‘high-command culture' but it failed to deliver results as not even a single candidate from the chosen 16 could register a win and lost by heavy margins.

Assembly elections are scheduled in Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Delhi later this year and the party is unlikely to repeat its mistake of Lok Sabha poll.

What is 'primaries' experiment?

Rahul Gandhi launched primaries in the Congress on the lines of the democratic US presidential elections where party members elect their candidate. It was an attempt to make ticket distribution more transparent and to increase participation of Congress workers.

Under the primaries, a section of party workers, leaders decide the party candidate from their constituency by participating in a simple voting process.

Rahul had announced about his pet project at an All India Congress Committee meeting on January 17 but the experiment to empower grass-root leaders has fallen flat. He even said that if the experiment proved successful, then it would be implemented nationwide in future elections, but now it is unlikely.

Rahul's experiment failed miserably

Not a single candidate from the 15-earmarked seats (from primarie quota) could register win. Prominent among those lost were Rahul's confidante Meenakshi Natarajan in Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh, AICC communication department chairman Ajay Maken in New Delhi and former Delhi PCC chief J P Agrawal in North East Delhi.

The parliamentary seats where candidates were selected through "primaries" are New Delhi and North-East Delhi (Delhi), Guwahati (Assam), Bhavnagar (Gujarat), Bangalore North and Daskshin Kanadda (Karnataka), Indore and Mandsaur (Madhya Pradesh), Wardha and Latur (Maharashtra), Bikaner and Jhunjhunu (Rajasthan), Sant Kabir Nagar and Ambedkar Nagar (Uttar Pradesh), and Kolkata North (West Bengal).

Several senior Congress leaders criticised Rahul's experiment

Moreover, the moment it was launched, the experiment caught up with controversies. Several senior leaders including former MPs Kapil Sibal, Krishna Tirath resisted the move. The first to openly criticise the experiment was then Union Minister Beni Prasad Verma who compared primaries to an ‘auction' and said it risked being sabotaged by rival parties.

It was also found that in most of the constituencies, Congress workers either chose sitting MPs, senior reports of bogus voting and use of muscle and money power during the polling.

No takers for Rahul's experiment anymore

With Rahul's failing endeavors and party's continuous poor show under his leadership, clamour is growing within party seeking change of guard. A number of leaders including loyalists like Digvijay Singh and AK Antony has questioned on Rahul's leadership and his style of working.

Criticising Rahul, former party MP Gufran Azam recently accused the Gandhi scion of destroying the grand old party saying, "Rahul thought Youth Congress is a lab and did experiments and destroyed it."

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