The BJP list
IFP Editorial: BJP, being the party in power both at the Centre and the state, is a party of choice for current MLAs or most intending candidates in Manipur. Almost every constituency has three to five intending candidates vying for the BJP party ticket.
Updated on 26 Dec 2021, 10:20 pm
Now, the antennas of everyone are up for the choice of party tickets, mostly of the BJP list. The anticipation is so much that people are willing to believe anything or any ‘list’ in circulation. Social media is abuzz with these so-called BJP candidates list. BJP, being the party in power both at the Centre and the state, is a party of choice for current MLAs or most intending candidates. Almost every constituency has three to five intending candidates vying for the BJP party ticket, which seems to have become quite a headache for the party leadership as many of the ticket aspirants seem to enjoy patronage from among the state and central leadership. There is also the long arm of the RSS, the ideological mentor of BJP leadership, whose opinion carries a lot of weight while deciding the ticket. It is just not enough that one has backing either from the chief minister or other powerful ministers or the state party president to be assured of the party ticket.
One has to go through layers of vetting process which is still going on with survey teams spread everywhere collecting inputs and assessing the prospects of every intending candidate. Party karyakatas imported from neighbouring states are roaming the lanes of every constituency assisted by concerned Mandal officials and collecting data. But, one never knows how much of these survey reports or data would be taken into account while deciding the party ticket by the leadership, as it has almost become a tradition for ruling parties to value the inputs of intelligence units more than any other input. Yet, everything is not absolute and in politics there is always room for favouritism and of propping up one’s loyalists to the party ticket. Relying on inputs from whatever source or sources while deciding party tickets might also be a smokescreen put up by the party leadership to assuage the hurt feelings of the party faithful or the ones who were denied.
The important question lurking in the minds of the ticket aspirants and every BJP supporter is, what will be the priorities of the party leadership or the determinant factors in deciding the party ticket? The old faithful or those who had been in the party long before it came to power are saying that their case should be given priority before considering other factors or the case of new entrants or ‘opportunistic’ neo-loyalists. But, this is a malaise afflicting every political party.
In the 2017 assembly elections, ‘winnability’ was a major factor and BJP pull out all stops in its singular objective of unseating the 15 year old Congress regime and except for a few, many of the BJP candidates were first-timers. The all-out effort in 2017 elections could produce only 21 MLAs in the 60-member Manipur assembly and it was forced to hastily cobble together a fragile coalition of parties and MLAs including a Congress deserter, while the single largest party Congress with 28 MLAs were denied a chance. As such, the attention of the party was most of the time consumed in managing the fragile coalition and also in tackling the infighting among the power centres within the party. This situation, the party wants to avoid it this time around and it will depend on getting a majority of its own. The important question now is whether BJP is going to put up a chief ministerial face in the 2022 elections or not.
In 2017, the party did not have one as it was fixated on overturning the tables on the 15-year-old Congress regime. Somehow, N Biren Singh got lucky with the defeat of a few old warhorses like former Union Minister Th Chaoba Singh. And, the Biren government was plagued more by internal dissension rather than by allies or Congress design. Yet, he managed to weather the internal storms and brought the coalition so far.
If the BJP leadership is really keen on getting a majority of its own to ensure stability and pursuit of its goals, it must also take care of ensuring a strong leadership and absence of internal dissension. People are talking of the Assam style in which no CM face was projected and ultimately led to Himanta Biswa becoming the CM and Sonowal shifted to Centre. Whether such a model could be applied to Manipur is open to question, as circumstances and political dynamics are different here.