Who is a Suitable Candidate?

Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya

An article published in Organiser on 4 December, 1961 discusses about the merit of a candidates selected for elections by the political parties. We are publishing it for our esteemed readers.

The programme for the next General Elections,as announced early by the Election Commission, has been confirmed by the Government. Whatever the astrologers might predict, the people and the political parties have to be serious and business like in preparing to meet this great democratic challenge. Parties have finalised their list of candidates. While some of the order parties, notable the congress, experienced much difficulty in seeking an agreeable formula to satisfy the conflicting claims of factions and communal groups, the newer parties have had to make hectic efforts to find out ‘suitable’ candidates, to contest the elections on their symbol. A ‘suitable’ candidate is a term which is better understood than defend. However, for a correct appraisal of the political health of the country and the parties, it would be desirable to discuss some of the salient qualities of such a candidate.
A suitable candidate to a man of commonsense should be one who can represent the party’s views in the legislature, who has been nursing his constituency and can claim to air the feelings of its people.

As an individual he should be devoted to the people and as a member of the party he seeks to represent, he should be disciplined and dedicated to its cause. If he has any other qualifications they may add to his stature, but they cannot be substituted for these basic ingredients of suitability. But in India hardly any political party worries about these things. Their only consideration is that he should be able to win. Like race goers they have no love for a particular horse. They will bet on one which has brighter chances of winning. But they forget that in politics their association with the winner does not end after the play. They have to carry the burden all through and it is through his medium that the party will be required to act in the legislatures and in the constituency. Most of the political parties today have no grassroots.

The Congress which one day was a mass party in real terms has now ceased to have any hold on the masses. The newer parties have yet to work hard to endear themselves to the masses. Under these circumstances appeals other than those of the party have to be made. It is for this reason that the ex-rulers are being wooed by every party. Even minister have hesitated to oppose if any member of the ruling family is in the fray. And if they choose to go with the Congress, all other opposition candidates consider their chances of victory bleak. Even granting that the ex-rulers have the citizen’s right to participate in the elections, it must be admitted that the present state of affairs is not happy. The situation cannot be mended by ex-rulers but by the people and by the various political parties. The ex-princely order must definitely be encouraged to take part in politics, but a ticket in the elections should not go to them by birth but by merit. People should also realise that a vote is not an instrument of expressing gratefulness to any candidate but a mandate to carry out their wishes. Caste and communal considerations also play a great part in the selection of candidates. Congress is the worst sinner in this respect, but other parties also cannot escape the odium. This also is due to lack of a sound and solid organisation. It is no use abusing casteism. Those who do indirectly rely on it. Everybody in India belongs to some caste or community.

By accusing the other party of indulging in casteism or communalism, you throw an indirect hint and make an unconscious and subtle appeal to these sentiments in the rest of the society. Experience of the last elections shows that candidates who tried to arouse caste feeling invited the antagonism and the united opposition of the rest and thus lost badly. But still that consideration weighs heavily with political parties. If other basic qualifications are there, I would not mind to what caste the candidate belongs.

He cannot be a casteless human being at least not in India. But if the situation develops to such an extent that even Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia had to forego his candidature only because he did not belong to the caste that numerically predominated in the constituency (this happened in a U.P. by-election, sometime back), it betokens a serious malady. The way out is to strengthen the party organisation, rather than accentuate appeal to caste considerations as the socialist doctor is trying to do by his promise of reserving sixty percent seats for backward castes and classes. Financial viability is another big factor that influences the choice of candidates. A number of people are given tickets for no other qualifications than their capacity to spend money. These people come in the field at election time and then hibernate for five years in the crowded bustles of Calcutta and Bombay.

They do not come to the people to solicit their votes but to purchase it. For them no price is too high. All that they want is to grease their way to the parliament. For them it is a business deal. The parties, including the Congress, are so tight of fiancés that they are only too willing to oblige these aspirants for power and fame. The Congress has been reported to have struck a deal with some of the industrialists in Calcutta to give them some parliamentary seats if they promise to foot the election bill of the Assembly candidates. The Swatantra party is commonly charged as being a party of Dalal Street. The financial stringency with the parties is so great that the Ganatantra Parishad has, just on that account, decided to merge with the Swatantra party. All these are factors that are likely to give a wrong direction to the polities of the country. If steps are not taken to mend them, powerful lobbies will emerge in the country’s legislatures and political decisions will hardly be taken in an objective manner taking into consideration only the welfare of the people and furtherance of national interests. The parties that want to develop into major parties should be careful not to sacrifice principles for quick gains. People too have a duty, and if they exercise their franchise in a judicious and intelligent manner, they can also correct the distorted viewpoint of the political parties. The voter should not complain; he should command. He should not desire; he must demand. He should not grumble and grudge; but should assess and assert. The voter should see that he votes for a principle and not for a party, that he votes for a party and not for a personality, that he votes for a person and not for the purse. Let him consider the cause and not the caste; go with the worthy rather than with the winner.

Choose the right man and see that the man you choose wins; that will be your victory. If you simply go as a camp follower of the man who has created an impassion that he win, you have already lost, whatever the result of the election be. Vote is a matter of conscience. Do not sell it. Do not destroy it. When you vote take a momentous decision, please do not take it just on the spur of the moment. Vote is an individual right to be exercised socially. It symbolises your freedom; use it freely. If you are a democrat do not be dictated by anybody but your conscience. Political parties that stand for the people also stand on the strength of the people. If the people want that nobody should bend them the people should lend them their strength. It is the people who are the architects of political parties, and through them of their political destiny. Let them succeed in the great test they are faced with.