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Many sitting MLAs in five poll-bound states may be 'unseated'

HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times  India, October 28, 2013
First Published: 23:18 IST(28/10/2013) | Last Updated: 14:36 IST(29/10/2013)

About 150 people from Sri Ganganagar district, waiting under a tin shed at the official residence of Rajasthan BJP president and former chief minister Vasundhara Raje in Jaipur, swarmed around her as soon as she came out.

She thought they were pushing for their favourite candidate. But, to her surprise they demanded that current MLA Radhe Shyam Ganganagar be denied ticket in the upcoming polls.

Raje took the relevant documents from them and promised to look into the matter.

So what is the upshot of this?
The anti-incumbency factor stares in the face of not only the ruling Congress but also haunts the Opposition BJP.
 
In Rajasthan, about 50% of the BJP's 78 MLAs are faced with this predicament. The party leadership has recognised it and is prepared to replace more than 40% of the sitting legislators.

"Apart from anti-incumbency, legislators who won with a thin margin will be replaced. In order to make space for new faces, some of the old ones have to leave," said leader of the Opposition, Gulab Chand Kataria.

It was keeping this in mind that the party had conducted three surveys during the Suraaj Sankalp Yatra and Raje also held two feedback meetings.

The Congress too may deny tickets to around 40% of its sitting MLAs and that includes some ministers as well.

Worried about being dropped, the MLAs and ministers have started lobbying in New Delhi to gain support from political bosses, playing the caste or community card wherever it has a payoff.

Precautionary measure
In an exclusive conversation with Hindustan Times, Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh said the upcoming election under his leadership for the third consecutive time would be three times more challenging.

"There is no anti-incumbency," said Singh, adding that only merit and winnability remained the criteria in selecting candidates when asked why the party's first list, declared on October 20, did not have the names of 10 sitting MLAs.

Political analysts say though any anti-Raman Singh wave may not be highly perceptible, the ruling BJP does face the threat of anti-incumbency factor in various constituencies.

According to BJP leaders, who were members of the party's screening committee, tickets have not been given to some of the sitting MLAs because of resentment among people and local party workers and their overall failure to rise up to the party's expectations.

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is leaving no stone unturned to win again.

Denying tickets to sitting MLAs is one of the potent means to negate anti-incumbency but it's easy, say many party leaders.

The rebel factor
There are two problems with this exercise: First, possible rebellion by MLAs who are denied tickets, and finding suitable candidates.

Hence, the BJP is delaying ticket distribution.

One of the measures to placate the MLAs, who are denied the ticket, is to assure them some plum posts in government-owned boards and corporations later.

The Congress in Delhi seems to be the exception. Despite vice-president Rahul Gandhi's suggestion about replacing 8-10 MLAs whose performance had been below par during the past five years, all sitting legislators are likely to get tickets.

(Inputs from Rashpal Bhardwaj in Jaipur, Ejaz Kaiser in Raipur, Ranjan in Bhopal and Atul Mathur in New Delhi)

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