In a few months, we will have another election upon us in Kerala. This election is a very significant one for us, because for the first time in many decades, there is a possibility to have a hung assembly after the polls. If the Bharatiya Janata Party or any group involving the BJP gets around 4 or 5 seats, we will have to grapple with this situation. And in the event of such an outcome, it’s going to be the President’s rule on the state.
That’s something our main political parties in the United Democratic Front and the Left Democratic Front will seek to avoid.
In my opinion, this is what they should do in the run up to the elections.
It is absolutely necessary for the parities in both the fronts to clearly define who is going to be their leader taking the reins after the elections. For the UDF, we know to a great extent that it’s going to be Oommen Chandy – but they don’t want to explicitly say so. For the Left, it is not clear whether it’s Pinarayi Vijayan or V.S. Achuthanandan. So there is confusion. When people are confused, they tend to vote against the party. In recent times, we have seen in states such as Delhi and Bihar that the parties that had announced their leader before the elections won.
Another critical thing: no party should field candidates against whom corruption charges have been levelled. I am not talking about allegations that are purely political in nature. Anyone with a suspected link to corruption should not be in the fray this time. Period. Besides, parties must choose candidates who are local: people from the same constituency or district.
Similarly, there is a need to have a ceiling on candidates’ age. It’s high time political parties announced a cutoff age for their candidates, say 70 years or 75 years. We have a lot of leaders who are not healthy, who can’t even walk. Don’t put them up as candidates. I would say at least 50% of the candidates should be new faces, with a good number of them being women. As many as 30% to 40% of seats should be kept aside for youngsters. Sitting MLAs who have nurtured their constituencies very well should be put up again. Parties also need to make these announcements upfront before the elections.
Another essential thing is a clear manifesto. Usually, parties come out with huge manifestos that nobody looks at. But this time, they should have with simple, succinct documents that spell out their priorities, and how they are going to implement the reforms needed to tackle the various issues confronting our state.
Quality of Governance over the last 20 years has deteriorated; government mechanisms have deteriorated. We have serious issues such as the decline in quality of education in the state. Our political parties need to say how they are going to change the systems and fix the problems, as they call upon us to vote for them in this election.