Firing the first salvo on Wednesday, Lok Sabha MP and G-23 member Manish Tewari asked, “how can there be a fair and free election without a publicly available electoral roll.”
In scenes reminiscent of 2000, when transparency in the election process became a bone of contention in the run-up to the contest between Sonia Gandhi and Jitendra Prasada for Congress president’s post, at least three party leaders on Wednesday demanded that electoral rolls be made public to ensure transparency in the process.
In 2000, the last time the Congress saw an election to the post, the Prasada camp had raised questions on the fairness of the election process. It alleged manipulation and rigging of the list of Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) delegates — members of the electoral college — before and after he filed the nomination.
His supporters had alleged that there were bogus names in the electoral rolls. The Prasada camp had also claimed that he had not been given addresses of delegates, which hampered his efforts to marshall support. In fact, even before he threw his hat in the ring, Prasada had written to the party’s central election authority (CEA), raising questions on the failure to publish the Congress delegates’ list.
The same charges have returned to haunt the party.
Firing the first salvo on Wednesday, Lok Sabha MP and G-23 member Manish Tewari asked, “how can there be a fair and free election without a publicly available electoral roll.” He said names and addresses of electors must be put up on the party website in a transparent manner — that, he said, will be the essence of a fair and free process.
1/3 election not to 28 PCC’s & 8 TCC’s.Why should someone have to go to every PCC office in the country to find out who the electors are ? This does not happen in a club election also with great respect. In interests of fairness & transparency I urge your gods self to publish
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) August 31, 2022
His remarks came three days after his G-23 colleague, Anand Sharma, raised the same issue at the Congress Working Committee (CWC), meeting which approved the election schedule. Sharma had argued that there was no clarity on the approximately 9,000 PCC delegates.
In an interview to The Indian Express on Tuesday, Madhusudan Mistry, chairman of the party’s CEA, however, said that the electoral rolls cannot be placed in public domain. “The electoral rolls are with PCCs. Those who want to see it can contact PCCs. Second, those who want to file a nomination…we will give the same to them. It is not for the general public. It is an organisational election, our members can have it. It is our property,” he had said.
Pointing out that the election is not being held for 28 PCCs and eight territorial Congress committees, Tewari asked, “Why should someone have to go to every PCC office in the country to find out who the electors are? This does not happen (even) in a club election. In the interest of fairness and transparency, I urge your good self to publish the entire list of electors on the Congress website. How can someone consider running if he/ she does not know who electors are.”