One of the key benchmarks set by strategists in preparing the list of likely candidates for the polls was the involvement of probable candidates and their relationship with cadre and voters at union and constituency levels. “While the functionaries were busy taking instructions and coordinating dispatch of relief materials, strategists silently conducted a survey and identified candidates without the knowledge of the district secretaries and functionaries there. Some well-connected district secretaries did their homework in anticipation of the survey and some were caught unawares,” said a leader with knowledge of the working of I-PAC. The strategists have also consulted neutral local contacts for their SWOT test.
Unsurprisingly, the usual variables like party loyalty, longevity, wherewithal, community backing, previous poll experience and individual popularity were also understood to be considered.
Some second rung leaders, who caught whiff of the list, were learnt to have contacted their sources in Anna Arivalayam to ascertain the reaction of the party president. Details about the list comes in the backdrop of Stalin assuring his district secretaries last month that they would have the strongest say (not I-PAC) in choosing candidates.
“He (Stalin) gave an assurance after Anbu (J Anbazhan), in his last meeting before death, publicly refused to engage I-PAC in the togetherness campaign. Stalin’s assurance eased the tension among the leaders, but information about the list has made them tense again,” said a second rung leader requesting anonymity.