Well, one can always trust the Indian media to fish in troubled waters if it can help the Congress and malign the BJP. Therefore, just when Congress’ cup of woes is brimming over, it has triggered off this debate on whether Sushma Swaraj is the best PM candidate for the BJP?
Firstly, of course, they will never have the guts to ask such a question of the Congress. Secondly, the BJP hasn’t asked for their opinion on this issue. But then again, it is a free country. The media is free to be biased also!
Well, in any case, the question is intriguing, and one that BJP will have to face sooner rather than later, that who should be its prime-ministerial candidate for the next Lok Sabha elections. While it is scheduled for 2014, many analysts (including this one) believe that it would happen sooner, much sooner! Maybe as early as mid-2012!
While there are many that support Narendra Modi (including me), let us actually think whether there can be a systemic plan for the BJP to throw up PM candidates, and by subsequent extension, CM candidates also.
The process can be as follows:
- The PM candidate will be selected by popular vote by a voting collegium of members of BJP
- The members in this collegium should be a) registered members of the BJP for at least five years; and b) should have stood for elections in the past on behalf of the BJP (either for the Lok Sabha or the State Assembly, in any state of India, irrespective of having won or lost)
- The voting could be done in person through a paper ballot, or through mobile SMS (which is very easy nowadays), in a national convention to be organized in any state capital, for this expressed purpose only.
- Any member of the BJP can nominate oneself to be considered for the PM nomination, provided one is a) registered member of the BJP for at least 10 years; b) should have successfully contested either Lok Sabha or Assembly elections in any state of India; and c) should have held at least a ministerial post, in either the central or a state government
- The nomination should be accompanied by letters of support from at least 500 BJP members, supporting that candidate’s nomination
- There will be no widespread campaigning allowed for the nominees to garner support from the voting collegium, except for releasing a documented vision for the country on what they propose to do as Prime Minister, interviews through the media and a speech during the national convention
- No negative targeting of the opponents to be allowed (candidate can be disqualified), only positive campaigning for how the individual is more suitable for the party nomination
- The nominee with the most votes would be declared the PM candidate of the BJP
- By extension, and if the NDA allies want, the voting collegium could also include their members (same criteria), to make them feel a part of the process. Of course, only a BJP member can stand for the elections (if Nitish Kumar wants to be considered, he has to merge JD(U) into the BJP!)
Now this is just a rudimentary thought and needs to be discussed, debated and finalized.
The important messages that come out of this process are as follows:
- A PM candidate should not be selected on the basis of seniority, support from the RSS, or the BJP high committee of leaders.
- The qualifications of a nominee allow for only those candidates to be selected who know what it feels like to be amongst the public, and have a mass base, not those who come in through the back-door of the Rajya Sabha (like our illustrious current PM)
- The voting collegium also gives due weightage to those members of the BJP who have stood for elections and know what it means to campaign and seek public support. They are the best judges for who would have a national appeal and deserves to be the BJP’s PM candidate.
- It also creates a selection process so that no one in the party can say that the candidate did not have support of the party cadres. The moral authority of this person to lead from the front would be unchallenged, and the allies would also have to accept it
- The biggest advantage is the distinctness it will give, from the Congress, which can either offer a member of the dynasty, or their representative “minion” for the PMs post.
What a coup this would be! BJP, are you listening?
Addendum: Based on some feedback received, and also my own thinking on this subject, a similar process should also be considered and rolled out to decide who gets the party nomination for an MP / MLA seat, from party members within that constituency (same criteria), so that rebellion and dissaffection during ticket distribution is eliminated! Similarly, it could also be done for party positions, district, state and national Presidents, etc.
In a democracy, the more democratic a political party becomes, the better it is for democracy itself! We have already seen the ill-effects of an autocratic “democracy” within the Congress party for decades now (See my earlier Blogpost – “The problem I have with the Congress“)!