Assam MP & Tharoor write to Congress: Make electoral rolls public

Demand from within the Congress for publication of electoral rolls for the upcoming election to the post of party president grew louder on Thursday with Lok Sabha MP from Assam, Pradyut Bordoloi, writing a letter to Madhusudan Mistry who heads the organisation’s Central Election Authority (CEA). Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor, too, is learnt to have written to Mistry raising the demand.

When contacted, Nagaon MP Bordoloi told The Indian Express: “Yes, I have written a letter to the chairman of the Central Election Authority requesting him to make the electoral rolls public to nail all apprehensions and ensure free and fair polls and transparency in the election process.”

Tharoor, who is said to be considering running for the top post, had on Wednesday publicly endorsed his G 23 colleague and Lok Sabha MP Manish Tewari’s demand that the list of PCC delegates, who form the 9,000-odd electoral college in the party, be made public to ensure transparency.

Tewari had asked how the process could be fair unless the rolls were made public. On Wednesday, Lok Sabha MP Karti Chidambaram and Tharoor had come out in support of Tewari’s demand. Karti and Bordoloi are not members of the G 23 group.

Bordoloi is learnt to have asked the election authority to upload state-wise electoral rolls on the Congress website.

When party elections were held five years ago, the electoral college consisted of 9,531 PCC delegates. The CEA is yet to disclose the exact number of voters this time. In 2017, Rahul Gandhi was elected unopposed. This time, there are indications that there could be a contest.

For filing the nomination, candidates are required to get 10 PCC delegates to propose their names. Demanding publication of electoral rolls, Tharoor is learnt to have argued that candidates could get disqualified if they get nomination papers signed by someone who they believe, in good faith, is a PCC delegate — and then discover later that the person is not in the revised list.

Tewari, too, had raised similar concerns on Wednesday while demanding that names and addresses of electors be put up on the party website. “How can someone consider running if he or she does not know who the electors are,” he had said, adding that “if someone has to file the nomination and get it proposed by 10 Congresspersons, as is the requirement, the CEA can reject it saying they are not valid electors”.

Backing Tewari, Karti had said that “every election needs a well-defined and clear electoral college”. Besides, he had said, the process of forming the electoral college must also be clear, well-defined and transparent. “An ad hoc electoral college is no electoral college,” he had said.

Tharoor had told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram, “Certainly, I think it’s important that everybody should have transparency on electoral rolls. If that’s what Manish has asked for, I am sure it’s a principle that everybody would agree (with). Everybody should know who can nominate and who can vote. There is nothing wrong with that.”

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