Modi ruthless in selection of Gujarat BJP candidates

Modi ruthless in selection of Gujarat BJP candidates

He is promising almost the moon, as many say. Employment would be generated, government would be corruption-free etc. If elected to power with a clear majority at the Centre, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi pledges to deliver at least these a few things to the people and lot more.

So, even as Gujarat went for polls last week for its 26 Lok Sabha seats, it was social engineering which has been at its best as far as selection of candidates for the party’s LS seats in the state was concerned. This, despite Modi’s development and good governance models he projected  across the country during his campaign.

Despite resistance from party cadres and visible protests after names were announced, party cadres fell in line and started campaigning for the candidates handpicked by Modi. In the process of his selection of candidates, Modi decided to do away with senior MP Rajendrasinh Rana and nominated Bharti Shiyal. Shiyal, party MLA, was named candidate just because she belonged to the Koli community - a dominant caste in the constituency. When his name was dropped from the list, it did come as a surprise.

“But this time every seat matters,’’ said a senior BJP leader. If the CM has selected candidates with these factors in mind, then there is no surprise for party leaders. So pre-poll predictions make a clear cut sweep for Modi in Gujarat with many giving away as many as 22 out of he 26 seats, observers point out that these predictions are in favour of Modi because of the selection of candidates.

There are similar cases even in seats like Godhra and Mehsana. In Mehsana, BJP candidate Vandana Patel was not the choice of the party workers and many point out that she has been imposed on the party by Modi. ``She had won the previous LS election as she was the first timer from the constituency, but this time around she would have been a failure had the campaign not been based on the Modi factor,’’ said the leader. He pointed out that the reason for her selection was because of she being a Patel and had the total support of the Patel community - a dominant caste in Mehsana Lok Sabha constituency. Patel also has the backing of the influential temple trust of the Patels followed by 80 per cent of the Patels in Mehsana.

Similar is the case in Godhra, where the BJP candidate Prabhatsinh Chauhan, not be a favourite amongst locals or local leaders imposed from the top and despite resistance from the party leaders. The reason, party sources say, was that he belonged to the large Kshatriya community in the constituency. The other logic was that Chauhan’s equation with the Muslims in the constituency, which is more than 40,000 in Godhra alone, had been good.

Senior party leader and spokesperson of the party, Vijay Rupani, however, rules out that any candidate has been imposed on the party. ``Winnability is the only criteria on the basis of which candidates have been selected,’’ said Rupani. He said selection of candidates have nothing to do with caste factor and population combination of the area.

No inclusive politics

While both BJP and the Congress have chosen not to pick up any Muslim candidates from the party, both parties are aware that selection of Muslim candidates bring no seats other than sending a message of inclusive politics. More over, even in constituencies where there are sizeable Muslim population like those in Bharuch, there too the Congress, which traditionally selects a Muslim candidate avoided one this time as the BJP candidate from the area, a tribal, has been winning for the last two terms now. By implementing the social caste equations, Modi has ensured to get the maximum number of seats from Gujarat thus doing away with all criticisms of late on his development agenda.

But that has not kept away economists like Hemant Shah who has been a critic of Modi, to state facts about what he calls ‘non-development.’ Though he admits that Modi has been a social engineer and hence has been able to win elections, “that has not in any way taken away the misdeeds he has committed in Gujarat.”

Quoting the latest NSSO’s 64th round survey, Shah said, ``Despite tall claims of development and creation of jobs in Gujarat, survey has suggested that 61.3 per cent of the population from rural areas have migrated to other parts of the country for better employment.’’ Shah, however, adds that he has however been able to keep the urban population in good humour hence only 4.6 per cent of the urban population has migrated to other parts of the country for better employment.

He said that this survey does suggest, that however a good strategist Modi might be with elections and winning them, his tall claims about development do prove otherwise. “Employment opportunities have gone down in rural areas of Gujarat and 95 per cent employment loss in agriculture during between 2004-2010,’’ pointed out Shah. He said accusation of Modi being favourable to the corporate rather than the farmers has also been another facet of his social engineering. “The land that has been given away to corporate by taking away from the farmers have not created any kind of job opportunities for the poor,” admits Shah.

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