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Candidates Wanted

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It is being reported that there are very few aspirants within the Congress party to contest the coming Lok Sabha polls from Uttarakhand. The reason being given for this is that, in a scenario where chances of victory are slim, nobody wants to waste money on even the most basic campaign. Even the party does not seem inclined to apportion enough funds to attract candidates. Having been out of power for a couple of terms, paucity of means is a natural consequence.

This leaves the party with few options – mostly jaded candidates that have been tried enough times by the electorate, who will bring nothing new to the table. These are the chronically ambitious who refuse to quit – addicted to wielding power, or securing particular seats for their offspring. Voters have to be habituated to identifying a family with the party. Where are the eager young party activists seeking to serve the people and develop their constituencies? Where is the idealism that would drive them to take the party forward even in a difficult situation? They too seem demoralised by the poor party presence at the grassroots. Symbolic protests between breakfast and lunch on issues that excite no one will certainly not get the votes. Nor will mere social media activism. Ideological clarity ceased to exist a while ago with all the party-hopping done by state level bigwigs. Causes have to be borrowed from the local communists for the occasional demonstration.

The Party High Command also seems clueless about what’s needed to galvanise the state leadership and cadre. It is simply going through the motions in the hope that, perhaps, national level developments such as the Rahul Gandhi Yatra might influence voters enough to support whoever is made the candidate. With the short-list of aspirants being actually short, there might not be any surprises in the selection. Anyway, if analysts in the know are to be believed, the decision is likely to be made by some lower category office-bearer, as those in the top echelons are too busy shoring up their own political futures.

The best hope for the Congress would be infighting within the BJP that could cut into the official candidates’ support base. Even with all the touted discipline within the party, there are already a number of aspirants willing to use caste and regional cards, either to pressure the party for the ticket, or to sabotage the official candidate if it is not them. That’s the Congress’s best hope.