Lok Sabha elections 2019: BJP list points to generational shift
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) list of 306 candidates announced so far for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections points to a key generational shift in the ruling party, and also underscores worries about the personal anti-incumbency of sitting MPs, particularly in the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh.Updated: Mar 25, 2019 11:36 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) list of 306 candidates announced so far for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections points to a key generational shift in the ruling party, and also underscores worries about the personal anti-incumbency of sitting MPs, particularly in the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh.
Nearly 50 sitting Lok Sabha members have been denied tickets so far, and veterans such as LK Advani, Kalraj Mishra, Shanta Kumar, BC Khanduri and Bhagat Singh Koshyari have been kept out of directly contesting elections by the BJP’s central leadership led by Prime Minister Modi and party chief Amit Shah.
The change started with Modi denying ministerial berths to leaders over 75 years old after storming to power in 2014. By not giving them tickets to contest the elections, the party has signalled that the generational shift in the party has reached the next level.
Most of the veteran leaders wo have been left out were not involved in the BJP’s decision-making process over the last five years, and do not enjoy enough support from followers in the party to challenge the decision. Some of the “retirements” have been smooth, with leaders such as Kalraj Mishra and Karia Munda from Jharkhand making public statements accepting the party’s decision. Advani, 91, whose Gandhinagar seat has gone to Shah, has not spoken about the 75-year rule. “The party will take a call on the future role of these leaders after the elections,” said a BJP leader, who was a part of the internal consultations, on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, a general secretary of the party, who asked not to be named, said picking “winnable” candidates in Uttar Pradesh has not been easy given that the Bahujan Samaj Party-Samajwadi Party (BSP-SP) alliance poses a serious challenge because of the caste arithmetic in the state.
Of the 31 candidates announced in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has dropped six sitting MPs and denied a ticket to its candidate in Kairana, who lost the by-election in 2018. The BJP won 71 out of 78 seats it contested in the last election, but lost three bypolls last year. In the face of the BSP-SP tie-up, the BJP is trying to limit the damage that personal anti-incumbency of sitting MPs may inflict on its prospects.
“A lot of research has gone into the candidate selection exercise,” the BJP general secretary cited above said. “Once the list is out, we may end up denying ticket to up to one-thirds of sitting parliamentarians.”
The party changed its all 10 MPs in Chhattisgarh and dropped five in the list of 15 candidates announced so far for Madhya Pradesh. The BJP lost both these states to the Congress in December assembly elections.
In 17 seats of Bihar, where five parties formed an alliance, the BJP repeated 13 MPs, dropped three, and gave away five seats that it won in the last election to Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United). This, a Bihar minister said, reflects the BJP’s openness in giving away sitting seats to accommodate new partners.
Political observers Sidharth Mishra said the BJP’s list shows a “war plan”. “The war plan aims to achieve some larger goals, such as getting new faces... There is a battle plan for some states where the Opposition has come together... The battle plan demanded the party to change a few candidates,” said Mishra, the Centre for Reforms, Development and Justice’s president.
Congress spokesperson Pranav Jha hit out at the BJP, accusing the party of mistreating its “founding fathers”. “The way the elders and senior founding fathers of the BJP are being treated in the party is most unfortunate... It breaks our heart to see Advani ji, Murli Manohar Joshi ji, Uma Bharti Ji or Kalraj Mishra ji being treated as dispensable furniture. A society is known by the way it treats it elders. I’m sure what one sows today also has to reap it tomorrow,” he said.