'Educated' candidates hard to find in R'than after new poll criteria

The new law fixing minimum education qualification for candidates contesting panchayat polls in Rajasthan is giving both ruling BJP and opposition Congress a tough time.

With the process of filling nomination starting from January 3, both parties are finding it hard to identify candidates with the minimum class 10 pass qualification for contesting Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti polls.

The situation is the worst in tribal areas, border districts and on the 50 per cent seats reserved for women candidates.

Observers from both parties are camping in various districts for the last few days but have not been able to pick their candidates.

“Each year there used to be stiff competition among candidates to get the party symbol for contesting Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti polls. But this year we are not getting the candidates,” said Dinesh Yadav, a Congress observer.

“The class 10 pass rider is not the only issue, but several parallel apprehensions have come up this time,”  added yadav.

Observers from both BJP and Congress said many party workers seeking tickets are not class 10 pass, while those qualified enough are not party members.

Observers fear that if they give tickets to qualified outsiders, they may join another party after winning the election or withdraw their nomination before the polls.

“Many of the eligible candidates in tribal areas do not have party membership. They may succumb to any outside pressure or take money to join another party after wining the election. The anti-defection law is also not applicable to panchayat elections. In such a situation, we have to be very careful while giving tickets,” said a BJP observer. 

Laying down terms
In a few cases, qualified candidates laid down their own terms.
“In my political career of 30 years, I have never seen any candidate negotiating with political parties and demanding money to contest elections on their symbol,” said an observer.

“In a tribal area we tried to contact some young student leaders and offered them party tickets. But they dictated their terms and asked for money. So there are obvious reasons to doubt the integrity of candidates who are not party members,” he said.

BJP leaders reason that any new initiative comes with problems, but in the long run Rajasthan will set a new benchmark.

“There can be certain problems but the initiative will certainly have multiple benefits in the long run,” said a BJP leader.

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