The country is on the verge of entering the election campaign phase, and parties are already sifting through possible candidates seeking to determine who among them has the most winnable potential.
It is unfortunate that at every election parties look at the ‘winnability’ factor when determining the candidate, rather than at the potential of the candidate to represent the people. It is time to change that method of selecting candidates, and the upcoming Lok Sabha election is a good time to make that change.
As the parties begin to shortlist the candidates, they have to keep in mind that their choice of person has in the past been rejected by the electorate. NOTA has turned out to be a very potent button on the electronic voting machine. In the 2017 Goa Assembly elections 1.2 per cent of the voters in the State pressed the NOTA button. It was the highest percentage from among the States that went to the polls at the same time. NOTA makes it obvious that there are voters in the State who are unhappy with the choice of candidates. Political parties have to therefore select candidates who resonate with the aspirations of the people, rather than those who are merely capable of winning.
All India Congress Committee President Rahul Gandhi will inaugurate the party’s Lok Sabha election campaign today (Friday) in Goa. Ironically, the party has still not announced the candidates for the two Lok Sabha seats in the State, but has a long list of applicants in both constituencies. Many of them may share the dais with the AICC president. But, it would be in the interest of the State and the party, if before announcing the candidates, political parties would consider what the people want in their future Member of Parliament?
Can the AICC president who will be visiting Goa today promise that the candidates of his party will be the people’s choice? Can he promise that they will be men or women who have taken up issues of the people, issues of Goa, that they will be persons who have selflessly fought to preserve the identity and culture of the State? There have been enough of empty promises by the political class that plays lip service to the needs of the people, while doing exactly the opposite of what they say. What Goa now needs are candidates who have stood along with the people, not just during election campaigns, but who have campaigned at other times with the Goenkar on issues the latter holds dear to his heart.
It may not be easy to find candidates, who have given themselves to the cause they have been fighting, to now step into the political arena. But that shouldn’t dissuade the parties from seeking out such persons who will not be mere party MPs who make up the numbers in the Lok Sabha, but representatives of the people who will speak in the voice of the people and present their issues before parliament for resolution.
To borrow a phrase from the Gettysburg address of Abraham Lincoln and alter it just a little, let the candidates that will be offered to the Goan electorate be ‘of the people, for the people and chosen by the people’. Can Rahul Gandhi and the Congress make this promise today? Can other parties also consider the choice of the people before announcing their candidates? Only one party – Aam Aadmi Party – has declared its candidates. The other parties are yet to do so. They still have the time to consider the wishes of the people and select accordingly. It is not much to ask for, will the parties deliver?