BJP has been reluctant to field veteran leaders in its first list of 184 candidates for the Lok Sabha 2019 elections. The party has assured that elder leaders will get tickets, if winning is a guaranteed bet.
- BJP has signaled the end of the Advani Era, replacing the patriarch with current Chief Amit Shah for the Gandhinagar Seat
- The decision to field others veteran leaders like Murli Manohar Joshi, BC Khanduri and Sumitra Mahajan still remains unclear
- After the 2014 victory, the party had made a conscious effort to take the reins from the hands of the Old Guard, which was systematically sidelined
2019 will witness the end of the Advani era in Indian politics. BJP decided against fielding its party patriarch from his bastion of Gandhinagar, instead signaling Amit Shah (who’ll contest in Advani’s place) as his default heir.
The matter of another stalwart, Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi appears to be in a grave limbo. Kalraj Mishra had seen better fate during the initial Modi years, having held a ministerial post till 2017. However, the BJP veteran stated his willingness to contest.
Another party elder, Sumitra Mahajan had also declared that she is fit to contest in 2019 elections. Neither Mishra’s nor Mahajan’s name was in the first list of candidates released on 21st March.
It started after 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when the newly elected BJP government was alleged to have consciously sought to keep once powerful but now aging politicians away from active politics and public service. Following this, many such names were refused tickets for State Legislative Assembly elections.
The party painted an image of a reborn BJP which preferred dynamism and fresh ideas of the youth towards better governance. The situation boiled down to a point where such ministers above the age of seventy-five were asked to resign once the party came to power in Delhi.
In Democracy, Votes Count
In much contrast, during the buildup to 2019, BJP has changed its course. It announced that in democratic politics, winning seats comes first as compared to governance. Not taking any direct blame for pushing senior party politicians aside, the leadership has now added a condition to give tickets to elderly leaders if they have a chance of winning in the polls.
Party might have had a majority victory under the Modi banner, but it has failed to generate a young class of dynamic politicians. Securing maximum number of seats, leveraging the image of some of the elderly, winning for whom is a guaranteed bet, is the new mantra for BJP. A top BJP functionary speaking to IANS on the condition of anonymity has stated:
“The age bar set by the party leadership is not official or written in its constitution. It is just an arrangement. As far as my knowledge goes, the age bar is not for contesting elections but for holding party and government posts.”
With the given uncertainty in the current scenario, replacing prominent and celebrated names with beginners would be a risky proposition for the party. It seems the party has been unable to formulate a plan to bring about successful entry of its contemporary youth leaders into the political arena.
It is clear that these veterans are unlikely to be pivotal pillars in the government if BJP retains power. It is reported that the majority of ministers who will make up a BJP cabinet, if it happens, are already decided. However, their experience and support will be vital for BJP to either gain majority or build a coalition.
LK Advani’s bastion of Gandhinagar has already been declared as Amit Shah’s seat for 2019. However, the second most prominent name in the veteran list, Dr. Joshi has made his desire to contest known. Voices inside BJP have backed a Joshi rerun on the Kanpur constituency. Satyadev Pachauri, a Minister in the Yogi Adityanath government in UP endorsed Joshi, describing him as a ‘man with a vision’:
‘In politics, age cannot be a bar. Performance is and it is for all to see what Joshi has done for Kanpur.’
The scenario in MP is quite opposite, with the candidature of 8-time Lok Sabha heavyweight Sumitra Mahajan being questioned within the state party circles. Senior BJP leader Satyanarayan has come out calling to the leadership against fielding Mahajan. He said:
“If the party gives a ticket to Mahajan for the ninth time, I will be forced to think of contesting against her as an Independent candidate.”
Uttarakhand big gun Khanduri had retracted his name from the fray citing health concerns. However, with his son Manish Khanduri leaving BJP to join hands with Congress, it will be interesting to see how BJP leadership leverages Khanduri in the state.
Veteran BJP MP Ram Prasad Sarmah from Tezpur, Assam also resigned amid rumours of his seat being up for grabs. Sarmah has alleged that ‘old guards’ who had toiled for decades were now being ‘neglected and ill-treated’.
Now that the party has decided to take these silver-haired savants into consideration, it will be interesting to see how the equation of half a score senior politicos will sit within the party. It is yet to be decided which seats these party greats will be contesting from and what advantage will they bring to the party’s fate in 2019.
|Politician||Age||Constituency in 2014|
|Lal Krishna Advani||91||Gandhinagar, Gujarat|
|Murli Manohar Joshi||85||Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh|
|Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri||84||Garhwal, Uttarakhand|
|Shanta Kumar||84||Kangra, Uttarakhand|
|Kariya Munda||82||Khunti, Jharkhand|
|Hukumdev Narayan Yadav||79||Madhubani, Bihar|
|Kalraj Mishra||77||Deoria, Uttar Pradesh|
|B. S. Yeddyurappa||76||Shimoga, Karnataka|
|Sumitra Mahajan||75||Indore, Madhya Pradesh|
- The BJP is looking to leverage aged leaders where it sees that fielding them would guarantee winning votes
- The party has set an unofficial age bar for leadership at 75 years, however there is no bar in candidature contesting elections, it clarifies
- With not enough dynamic youth leaders in BJP’s arsenal, the party might look to the aging stalwarts to guarantee seats in 2019
You might like these