BJP President JP Nadda has reportedly called for a performance appraisal of the state’s ministers in the context of candidate selection for the next assembly elections. In fact, he should also take a look at the track record of all party MLAs. Both will present a dismal picture. The fact that the Chief Minister has not found any MLA worthy enough to fill the two empty seats in the Cabinet indicates the sorry lack of talent in the party. There seems to be complacency in the state unit and the government because of Prime Minister Modi’s enormous personal popularity and the weakness of the opposition, otherwise matters would not be taken so much for granted. If matters continue in the present manner and there are no unpredicted events to swing voter sentiment, it is a given that the MLAs’ poor performance will significantly bring down the party’s tally.
Even in its pathetic present condition, the Congress could take advantage of the situation and pose a serious challenge by simply putting up high quality candidates in each constituency. It must certainly have in its ranks persons of calibre that can rise on the back of nomination by a major national party. The increasing number of young voters free of traditional compulsions such as fealty to dominant local families, who foist brothers, sons, daughters and wives on the electorate, would be willing to back merit and a good track record. If the Congress does not have such persons on its rolls, it should begin the search for them in each constituency – people who may have made their mark in some area, in particular, entrepreneurship and social service.
If Nadda actually conducts the scrutiny as promised, he may find it necessary to dump, at least, fifty percent of incumbents. Such an exercise has been done before in other states, albeit where anti-incumbency has been quite visible. It may not be so much anti-incumbency in Uttarakhand, but voter apathy most certainly. This could prove a hidden factor that might undo the present comfortable position of the BJP. Of course, this is not to say that the government’s performance has been all bad, but merely launching and implementing big ticket projects are not the only vote-catchers. There are local issues, particularly of grassroots governance, that legislators are required to deal with. The inability to get past the state’s bureaucracy has been a constant grouse among the MLAs, which reflects the state of affairs. Whether this indicates the shortcomings of the party leadership, or the incompetence of the legislators, the matter can no longer be overlooked. Elections are just a slip and a slide away!