For all their demands for well-educated, fresh candidates following the Anna Hazare movement, when it came to votes, Delhiites showed that they still go by party allegiance.
First-time candidates, who had studied and worked in foreign countries and returned some years back, haven’t fared well in the just-concluded Municipal Corporation of Delhi elections despite impressive manifestoes and even more impressive professional and educational backgrounds.
In Chittaranjan Park, Surya Prakash Loonker, an MBA degree holder from Iowa State University, managed to secure just over one percent of the votes polled in his constituency. Loonker blamed “blind faith” for his loss.
“People have long standing associations with parties so while they seemed to be in full support of my campaign, they eventually voted for members from parties that their families support,” said the finance professional, who also contested and lost the Delhi assembly elections in 2008.
Bodh Saraswat, who contested from Matiala ward (Dwarka), too, failed to make a big impact. He garnered just 500 of the 36,000 votes (1.3%) cast in his constituency.
The 31-year-old architect said money and ignorant voters had a part to play in his loss.
“Candidates from BJP and Congress spent money like water to reach the public. Also, a lot of people did not know any of the candidates who were contesting this time.
This worked against me, as the voters who didn’t know their candidates went for the established parties,” said Saraswat.
Sameer Bhagat, a sales and marketing professional who worked in Germany for many years before he returned, also failed to win the Vasant Vihar seat but managed to get 20% of the vote share.
In contrast, well-educated, young candidates but backed by political parties shone through.
Congress candidate Abhishek Dutt, 32, a first time candidate with an MBA degree, won from Andrews Ganj - an area that had elected BJP councillors for the past 30 years.
“Contesting from a national party does have its own advantages but even an independent can get the mandate if he has proven his credentials,” Dutt said. According to political sociologist Dipankar Gupta, the ability to inflict, sustain and bear political violence is imperative for a successful politician. “The candidates should not be alien to violence lest they be portrayed as people who, once elected, will not be able to withstand the heat,” he said.