Youth Or Experience? Both Congress and BJP burn midnight oil to find answer
Rightly or wrongly, or somebody likes it or not, the effect of Aam Aadmi party’s rather superficial fight against corruption and so-called campaign to cleanse the system by infusing young blood is having an effect on two major parties, the Congress and the BJP in Karnataka, when it comes to the selection of candidates for the forthcoming 2014 parliamentary elections.
The leadership of both the Congress and BJP are having a tough time in selecting candidates, who must be able to win the elections as well as have clean image. While the general impression and unanimous view in both the parties is that while the veterans, albeit, a rather less clean image will be able to manage to win the elections as he knows the tricks of the election trade, the new-comer with a clean image, however, is almost sure to be a liability, as he is a novice not only to the rough and tumble of electoral politics but also in the political field.
“In the event of any one of us fielding a novice against a veteran, then it can be safely said that the veteran will make a mince-meat of the novice. It is this we are worried about,” two leaders of both Congress and BJP, told Uday India on the conditions of anonymity.
But the state leadership are not in a position to take a stance diametrically opposite to the diktats of their respective high command if the call is to have candidates with clean image and no matter if he or she is politically novice. Then, in that case, what happens to the winnability factor? Is it possible to blend idealism (clean image candidates) with pragmatism (winnability)? The two parties do not have answer to this question, as of now. “We are sitting with our fingers crossed,” the leaders of both the parties admit.
Added to this perplexity is the dimension of infusing young blood by fielding youth as candidates. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s diktat to the party to push youngsters to electoral politics has raised hopes among the siblings of many top Congress leaders. Harsha Moily, Priyank Kharge, (sons of two Union ministers Veerappa Moily and Mallikarjuna Kharge respectively) and Nivedith Alwa (son of Margaret Alwa) are some among many names that are making rounds for candidates from various constituencies.
BJP, however, does not have the problem of the sons of leaders seeking tickets to contest the Lok Sabha elections in but new names of youngsters from outside the party circle is being heard in the saffron outfit. For instance, the name of Prathap Simha, a columnist in a Kannada daily is being circulated for Udupi-Chikamagalur Lok Sabha constituency. A prolific writer with a distinct pro-right slant, that too, with a powerful idiom, Prathap Simha has written a book on the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. He has brought out intricate detail of various dimensions of Modi and his achievements, which, obviously has been a big hit in so far as the sales are concerned.
However, BJP’s strategists are of the view that a columnist, no matter how powerful his writings are, will not be successful in the rough and tumble of electoral politics. “Nothing can be more amateurish if we select Prathap Simha as our candidate. It would be a height of immaturity,” a top BJP leader who is also a parliament member, confided with Uday India.
Just like the Congress, the BJP, on its part, is also weighing its options of whether to retain the sitting candidates or choose a new comer and its possible outcomes. While the BJP has 18 seats of the total 28 seats, the Congress has nine and JD (S) one seat.
Not surprisingly, both the Congress and BJP’s main worry is not only about the choice of candidates but more about whether the sitting MP would sabotage the chances of the newcomer, in the event of denied ticket. Unlike the BJP, the Congress does not have much of the problem as it has only nine seats but the BJP, which is facing the problem of plenty, has to be extremely careful if it denies ticket to the sitting MPs, lest they sabotage from within.
According to sources, the BJP’s state leadership, in consultation with the central leadership, is planning deny tickets to as many as seven MPs and accommodate newcomers, preferably youngsters. The BJP has to contend with another problem of accommodating the needs of former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, who has become “prodigal son” after he returned to his home recently.
Yeddyurappa, who continues to hold sway over the numerically significant and politically crucial Lingayat community, is believed to have told the party leadership that there is a need to change at least five sitting MPs, if the party has to retain those seats. In the event of him being made the Chairman of the Campaign Committee—which is most likely—then he will ensure that he has his say as well as way, so far as the selection of candidates in the North-Karnataka region is concerned.
All said and done, both the BJP and the Congress are battling out within themselves, as to how to be seen as “clean and credible” and also ensure the “victory” which is crucial and inevitable for both the parties.
By SA Hemantha Kumar from Bengaluru