The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong cool to ticket clamour for sons

New Delhi, Oct. 30: The Congress central leadership is unlikely to give in to pressure from a growing list of party elders in Rajasthan for accommodating their “generation next” in the list of nominees for the coming Assembly elections.

Senior party leaders, including working committee members Natwar Singh and Nawal Kishore Sharma, former chief minister Shiv Charan Mathur, Assembly Speaker Parasram Maderna, former Lok Sabha Speaker Balram Jakhar, state home minister Ghulab Singh Shekhawat, finance minister Pradhyuman Singh, power minister Ram Narayan Chaudhary and a couple of sitting MPs, have put up the case of their kith and kin.

Natwar Singh is seeking a ticket for son Jagat from the Laxmangarh seat in Alwar district. AICC sources, however, said Jagat might be one of the few lucky ones to get the high command’s nod.

Jakhar, sources said, is pushing the case of his two nephews — Anil Chaudhary and Vinod Kumar Chaudhary — against stiff resistance from local leaders in Hanumangarh district.

Unlike some ministers who have conveyed their willingness to retire from electoral politics in favour of their sons and daughters, Maderna seeks to retain his seat in Barmer district.

But he wants the party to give a ticket to his son for the Bhopalgarh seat in chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s home district of Jodhpur.

Faced with a horde of such demands, the chief minister has decided to play safe. Last week, he authored a resolution in the pradesh election committee authorising party chief Sonia Gandhi to select Congress nominees for all 200 seats in the Assembly.

This, sources said, was Gehlot’s way of avoiding a showdown with his senior colleagues. A clash with them early this year had seen the chief minister struggling to survive a threat to his chair.

Gehlot apparently also reckons that leaving the matter to the high command would resolve his dilemma over denying tickets to a large number of sitting legislators.

The sources said the high command was unlikely to entertain the demand of the leaders to accommodate their relatives as it would be a sure way of inciting anger among party workers.

Following the authorisation given to the party president to pick nominees, Manmohan Singh, who heads the central screening committee vetting the Rajasthan list of candidates, met senior state leaders individually to ascertain their views on the selection.

The senior Congress leader is believed to have made it clear to them that “winnability” would have to be the sole criterion for fielding nominees in a poll the party reckons will be touch-and-go between the Congress and the Opposition BJP.

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