The BJP may be riding high on Prime Minister Modi’s popularity, but it is not leaving anything to chance in the effort to win the next Lok Sabha polls. It has already begun the exercise of vetting possible candidates, rather than depend entirely on incumbents. Elections in India have taught political parties that anti-incumbency or not, there is a need to drop non-performing MPs at the constituency level. Unfortunately, apart from the BJP, few other parties have the necessary structure to carry out such an exercise, run as they are by ‘Supremos’ and dynasties. Often it is the proximity to the party leader that counts when it comes to obtaining a ticket.
Even as the INDI Alliance struggles to decide on which seat each party will contest, let alone which candidate, the BJP is well ahead in conducting this process. Even in Uttarakhand, the process was initiated in Doon on Sunday. As a stronghold of the party, Uttarakhand’s five Lok Sabha seats can be counted as a given, but it would only be fair to the people to offer them candidates they would be happy to support. And it is a fact that on three of the five seats, a change in the incumbent would be generally welcomed. It is also true that there is no shortage of strong candidates that can take their place. Caste considerations will definitely be a factor, but thought will also have to be given to how suited are the contenders to the new style of politics. Going by the feisty approach adopted of late by the opposition in Parliament, BJP’s representatives will need to have the calibre to provide Modi and the top leadership the support required. Countering the opposition should not be left to just the stalwarts; the new generation should have the skills to understand and face the emerging challenges. That requires not just grassroots activism, but also intellectual savvy. It is no longer enough to be ‘qualified’ because of one’s background, or years in politics. This is all the more important because, when it comes to handing out responsibilities, caste and community are playing an increasing role. The selected ones should have the necessary skills to be a success. It should not be that, given a ministry, one ends up only embarrassing the party. Are there the suitable candidates in Uttarakhand in this context? Time will tell whether the selectors come up to the mark!