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Selecting Candidates

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It may not be evident as yet on the surface, but the process of candidate selection has begun in Uttarakhand for the coming Lok Sabha elections in both major parties. Senior politicians who may make a bid for the tickets on the basis of their stature are busy positioning themselves with the party leaderships and their traditional support base. Unfortunately, most of them are tried and tested, thereby not eliciting much enthusiasm from the general public. The BJP and Congress will be looking at relatively younger leaders with the potential to win and also become effective parliamentarians.
All five Lok Sabha seats from the state are occupied by the BJP. Of the incumbents, it does not seem likely that Maj Gen BC Khanduri (Retd) will want to contest, or even be considered, because of age and health reasons. He will, though, want the primary say in who takes his place. BS Koshyari is on the margin and it is possible that he may get another chance. Tehri’s Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah may be in the crosshairs for non-performance and Congress import Vijay Bahuguna is quite obviously eyeing the possible vacancy. Almora’s Ajay Tamta is young, enjoys a ministerial position and is very likely to be repeated. Haridwar’s Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ represents a very complex constituency and numerous calculations will have to be done to ascertain whether he gets the ticket or not.
Much also depends on who the Congress candidates will be. The front line leadership, though active enough, is also overage. This includes the ever ambitious Harish Rawat and the doughty Indira Hridayesh. The most qualified among the relatively younger lot is Navprabhat, but he faces considerable opposition from within the local party outfit. Present President of the State Congress Pritam Singh and former President Kishore Upadhyay may also be harbouring ambitions, but could be considered too lightweight for the task.
The possibility of strong independent candidates also contesting will also have to be considered. There are those who have worked hard in the social sector and made an impact and are now wanting a bigger stage. They are unlikely to win, but may attract enough votes to upset calculations. As such, their field of work, caste and community will need to be factored in while making selections for the two national parties. This is particularly so in the case of the Congress, which is seeking to make a comeback in very adverse conditions.