New Delhi: In keeping with party vice-president Rahul Gandhi's plan of holding 'primaries' for the selection of the Lok Sabha candidates for some seats, All-India Congress Committee today announced the opening of the exercise for the New Delhi parliamentary constituency.
Mr Gandhi's proposal aims to empower grassroots Congress workers by allowing them a say in the selection of candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, party sources said.
"In the first phase, the primaries project has been started for the New Delhi Lok Sabha seat. The project will soon be launched in the North-East Lok Sabha constituency as well.
"With this project, local party workers can choose their Lok Sabha candidates," said Netta D'Souza, the returning officer for the exercise.
Mr D'Souza said that voters and candidates with a criminal background would be kept out of the project.
Congress said that the normal process of choosing the party's candidates - involving the Central Election Committee and the Pradesh Congress Committee - did not ensure the involvement of local office bearers.
"For conducting the election, a voters' list will first be prepared. Office bearers of NSUI, Congress Mahila Sangathan, Vyapar Mandal and Zilla Parishads can register themselves as voters for the same at the website, primaries.nic.in," said Hari Shankar Gupta, Delhi's in-charge for the project.
Besides, current MLAs, MLCs, MPs, national office bearers of AICC/departments (SC, ST, OBC and Minority) and current chairpersons of district-level associations of doctors (IMA), dentists (IDA), CAs (ICA), bar associations, engineers, traders, etc. may also sign up as voters, Mr Gupta added.
A draft voters' list would be released on February 24 and interested candidates may file their nominations till February 27, after which, the election date would be announced, he added.
Voters will exercise their franchise through ballot papers for the primaries, which, in its first phase, would be held for 15 Lok Sabha constituencies in the country.
Meanwhile, asked if Congress was following Aam Aadmi Party in launching the project, party sources said that the Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit had not planned or implemented any such scheme for the selection of candidates.