Updated on 25 Oct 2021, 8:49 pm
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 from the state in charge Sambit Patra to election in charge Bhupendra Yadav, besides the green signal from the local RSS machinery. Let us say, one has to please too many masters to get the BJP ticket unlike in other parties.
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 pulled 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.
Not only were most of the party MLAs first-timers, the BJP ideology or RSS ethos for that matter were totally foreign to them. So, the indoctrination process took time even for the top leaders in the government and they are still struggling with it. Even as it struggles with numerous ticket aspirants, it goes on admitting new faces to the party in the hope of consolidating the party base and striking gold this time. The recent most high-profile entry was that of state Congress President Govindas Konthoujam, who they say had a RSS past before joining Congress. Govindas was quite a catch for BJP being a six-time MLA and state Congress chief in the run-up to the 2022 assembly elections. But, it took some time for the party leadership here to welcome him, as the warring factions within the party were not overly happy with the decision. Despite such misgivings, Govindas has managed to book a seat in the all-powerful Core Committee meetings. On the other hand, Chief Minister N Biren Singh has had an uneasy relationship with the RSS hawks all along and whether he will still continue to enjoy the blessings of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah after the 2022 elections has become a question mark, now. Yet, the party seems to be keeping track of the scenarios which throw up new possibilities every waking day and now even some are questioning whether all the sitting MLAs of BJP are 100 per cent assured of the party ticket in the run-up.