Rahul's primary in Madhya Pradesh marred by allegations of rigging

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Rahul's primary in Madhya Pradesh marred by allegations of rigging

Congress primaries, backed by Rahul Gandhi, are a US-style process of letting party workers directly choose their nominees. (PTI photo)

Mandsaur:  Congress in Madhya Pradesh's Mandsaur constituency got its Lok Sabha candidate through party vice-president Rahul Gandhi's pet project, the primary, which is an American-style process of letting party workers directly choose their nominees. The party will select 16 candidates from across the country through the process ahead of national polls, due by May.

In Mandsaur, sitting MP Meenakshi Natarajan won the primary by 756 votes. The MP, a close aide of Rahul Gandhi, defeated Surendra Sethi, a former District President of the Congress in Neemuch, who secured only 50 votes and later boycotted the polls alleging rigging of voter list by Ms Natarajan and her supporters.

"When we checked the voter list, we found 550 bogus voters. 514 did not have the epic number. There were 350 voters who are from outside the constituency and 150 were from the constituency. Also, there are irregularities in the categories voters have been put in,"Mr Sethi claimed.

"I would like to thank party workers for their support. I hope as intended by Rahul Gandhi this process not only deepens democracy but also increase participation of workers in political decisions," Meenakshi Natarajan told NDTV after her 'victory'.

Around 1500 voters were registered but 781 turned up. Over 150 voters were not allowed inside the venue as they were either late or there was some problem with their voter ID cards.

This one-of-its-kind election evoked mixed response among the grassroot workers of the party. Khushboo of the Neemuch Congress women's wing told NDTV, "This selection process is very good and should be continued. This way, party will get good candidates."

Akeel Khan, a Sevak Dal district head who was not allowed to vote, said, "Turning away voters was not right as the post-holders have gone disheartened. If one voter is upset, it means 100 of his supporters are upset which is not right."

However, returning officer of the primary, Neeraj Dangi, a Congress general secretary in Rajasthan, claimed that the allegations levelled by Mr Sethi were baseless. "The election process was by no means unfair," he said.


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