New Delhi : Union ministers – Kapil Sibal and Krishna Tirath have succeeded in getting their Lok Sabha constituencies out of the list that was finalised for selecting party candidates through US-style primaries by the reform oriented Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

Gandhi is determined to reform the party and one of the proposals is to widen the selection base of its candidates for the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections by holding US style primaries. He has engaged K J Rao, the reformist man from the Election Commission as the person who would oversee the experiment of picking up 16 candidates across the country by this process.

Though at the recent session of the All India Congress Committee, Gandhi had said that there would be no compromise while conducting this experiment, severe pressure from Sibal who represents the Chandni Chowk and Tirath who is from the North-West Delhi seat has made him drop these two from the list of 16 constituencies. Now, it is expected that two new constituencies would be added to the list. Gurudas Kamat the AICC general secretary who represents North West Mumbai has suggested that his constituency be included for this experiment.

The 14 constituencies identified for this process are: Assam-Gauhati, Gujarat-Bhavnagar and Vadodara, Karnataka-Bangalore North and Dakshin Kannada, Madhya Pradesh-Indore and Mandsaur, Maharashtra-Aurangabad and Yavatmal-Washim, Rajasthan-Bikaner and Jhunjhunu, Uttar Pradesh- Sant Kabir Nagar and Varanai, and West Bengal-North Kolkata.

The two ministers-Sibal and Tirath were upset as the decision to hold primaries in their constituency put a question mark on their candidature whereas at least Sibal had started campaigning in the constituency.

Gandhi has repeatedly stressed that the choice of party candidates should not be based on closed door discussions, and the process should be more broad based, open and reflective of the wider opinion within the party. Though he wants to extend it to all the constituencies in the country, it has been started as a pilot project in 16 constituencies as an experiment.

The process has got off in Gauhati, with the enrollment of voters, and the last date of

nomination for the candidates

is February 5th. The voting if there is more than one candidate in the fray will take place on

February 12th.

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