What is the short cut to get nominated as a party candidate in any election in India these days? Be in good books of the leader/party leadership that selects the party candidates. Most of the time loyalty to the leader is the main criteria for selection. Gone are the days when parties select candidates based on the actual work the candidates have done for the common people in that constituency. Thus common party workers and citizens are forced to vote for a candidate imposed on them by leadership.
A victory of the candidate in any constituency is due to the hard work of the party workers/cadres of that party. Do these party workers/cadres have the final say in selecting the candidate in their region? Why can’t we have a “primary election” as we have in US for all our elections?
For those who don’t know what primary election means here is a brief explanation – a party X has four leaders who wanted to contest the election from seat Y. All the four candidates file their candidature for the primary elections and all the registered party members of that constituency vote to find out who should be the party candidate. The candidate getting the maximum votes gets nominated as the party candidate in that constituency.
Now what is the advantage of such a system – rather than your nearness to party leader/leadership, the successful candidate needs to be close to the party workers to get the nomination. For that he/she needs to work with them for their cause to get their good will and support. This system will allow hardworking and sincere people who do quality work to get noticed and get elected as our representatives.
A person like US President Barack Obama, who was an unknown commodity in early 2000’s could become the Senator and then US President mainly due the efficient primary system in US. He could win the trust of the ordinary Democrats all over the US and over other powerful Democrats like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton within a short span of time and could win the primary elections comfortably. He did not have a big name among Democrats to support him when he started the campaign but had lot of ordinary Democrats support which eventually sealed his nomination as Democratic candidate for US Presidential election.
I understand that there are lots of difficulties in implementing the concept of primary elections in India. In the present scenario, money power may win over power of the party workers and thus a candidate can seal his candidature in primary election with brutal use of money power. Also prospective candidate can enroll bogus voters in a particular constituency to improve ones chance of winning the primary. Yes, there could be difficulties but if all political parties come together and make a system very similar to primary elections in US, it will go a long way in having leaders with good credentials coming up as candidates in elections.
Is political leadership in India ready for such a drastic change that gives the power to select the party candidate by party workers? Only time can tell…
Elections to Kerala Assembly will be held on April 13th. All the major parties have announced their candidates and campaigning is going on in full swing. Almost all the opinion polls that came out till now have predicted a majority for UDF. Here are my six reasons for UDF to come back to power in Kerala.
Starting 1980 elections, for the last three decades, Kerala has a history of voting out the ruling front. Five years of LDF rule with a Chief Minister constantly at war with party leadership and dissatisfaction among the people especially minority communities like Christians and Muslims, history is bound to happen – ruling government is voted out of power.
In 2006, V.S effect helped LDF to win. This time, V.S effect is going to help UDF win. Let us see how. For the last 58 months V.S. Achuthanandan is the Chief Minister of Kerala. Just when 56 months after V.S. Achuthanandan became the Chief Minister he realized that all UDF leaders are either corrupt or sex offenders. He is going around Kerala asking people to give him one more opportunity so that he can arrest all these UDF leaders and put them behind bars. He has selected memory loss and it seems like V.S. Achuthanandan has forgotten that his own party secretary is involved in corruption charges and a former district secretary in a sex scandal. Now this character assassination of V.S. Achuthanandan of UDF leaders has made UDF workers work with unity never seen before and this is sure to get converted into seats. The halo of V.S. Achuthanandan as crusader against corruption is sure to backfire on LDF this time.
Also people of Kerala will easily understand that it is a political gimmick. For those who have followed Kerala politics for long something similar happened in1996. A K Antony was the Chief Minster that time when Assembly elections were announced. UDF especially Congress party was in disarray that time with factionalism after Leader K Karunakaran was forced to resign as Chief Minister. Congress and UDF were in for major disaster in the upcoming polls and it was when A.K Antony announced arrack ban all over Kerala. The media and people were all saying that UDF will come back to power with majority of women voting for UDF. Yes, arrack ban helped to reduce the defeat margin, still the LDF got 80 out of 140 seats. Something similar is going to happen in 2011.
You need to experience this to understand this. When LDF (read CPI-M) is in power there is two sets of rules – one for the party workers and its sympathizers and another for the common man. If a party worker or a sympathizer does anything wrong, the party will go any extend to protect them but if a common man does not obey the party leadership he will be harassed like anything. This was observed whenever LDF was in power and this is one of the reasons why LDF was never voted back to power. This “highhandedness” is beyond control this time around and is going to hurt LDF and CPI-M like never before.
I like to call it S-A-M-S Effect. It is Dr Sindhu Joy, A P Abdullakutty, Dr K.S Manoj, Sivaraman effect – all those four very young leaders that left CPI-M in the last 5 years. If they continued in CPI-M, there was a chance that they could have had a great political future. But why did they come out? They understood that CPI-M is a party going into the 21st century with the ideologies of 20th century and when they try to tell the leadership these facts they were sidelined and all of them came out of CPI-M to breathe some fresh air.
Now we know about these four because they were leaders. Now there are thousands of other party workers and sympathizers who left the party because of rotten leadership and after understanding the hollowness of the ideology called “communism” as practiced by Kerala comrades. This decline in the party strength is going to be another major going against LDF in this election.
Disunity in CPI-M
Even though CPI-M and LDF wont accept this in public, it is a fact that CPI(M) is a divided house today. There is lot of internal power struggle going on that and is sure to affect the prospects of the party and LDF in the coming election.
There were lots of noises in UDF during the seat sharing and when the candidates were announced. But the personal attacks on UDF leaders by LDF leaders especially that of V.S Achuthanandan has united the UDF and has given fresh vigor in the campaigning that will surely be converted to seats.
No election in India will be over without mentioning religion/caste and Kerala is no exception. LDF is in the wrong side of Caste/Religion factor in this election. Last five years too many comrades with their words and actions have antagonized various religion/caste especially minority communities like Muslims and Christians and it looks like there is going to be a polarization of those votes. If this polarization happens as most opinion polls predict I am afraid, LDF will be wiped out from most part of Central and North Kerala.