india

Choosing candidates an onerous task

Each political party has its own system for winnowing the nominees from a large field of aspirants

Election time usually presents a challenge to leaders in choosing the right candidates from among thousands of aspirants. DMK president M.K. Stalin acknowledged the problem on Thursday in his ‘Udanpirappuku Kaditham’ (letter to the cadre) in Murasoli, the party’s mouthpiece. He noted that interviewing thousands of aspirants was an important task, besides finalising seat-sharing agreements with the allies.

The DMK has received over 8,000 applications, the highest number in recent times, and it needs to short-list the candidates for about 180 Assembly constituencies, where it intends to contest. It is interviewing the aspirants in batches.

Exciting process

For aspirants, too, the process is exciting. “The panel interviews five candidates at a time and the questions are about the prospects of a candidate in a constituency,” said P.R. Sivakumar, former judge of the Madras High Court, who has sought nomination from Manamadurai in his native Sivaganga district. Asked about his prospects, he said, “I have opted for the constituency only because I am confident of my victory.”

Incidentally, this time, though the DMK leadership has prepared the background of every candidate, the data prepared by the Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) of Prashant Kishor, the consultant of the party, will also play an important role in the selection of candidates.

The interview is being conducted by a panel comprising Mr. Stalin, general secretary Duraimurugan, treasurer T.R. Baalu, deputy general secretaries and others. The financial strength of an aspirant is also taken into consideration.

“If a district secretary is a candidate, the question will be around the party’s prospects in the district,” said former Minister Thangam Thennarasu, who is entering the fray for the fifth time. “District secretaries will sit on the panel when candidates from their districts are interviewed,” he said.

R. Balaji, an aspirant for Thiruparankundram, said the party had done its homework well about all candidates. “The interview ends in a few minutes. In my case, I was among 10 candidates who faced the panel simultaneously,” said Mr. Balaji, a deputy district secretary.

The Congress said it had received an overwhelming response. “We have received around 1,500 applications. Dinesh Gundu Rao, who is in charge of the party affairs in Tamil Nadu, is interacting with the district committee presidents and secretaries to form an opinion on the candidates,” TNCC president K.S. Alagiri said.

“Gone are the days when we have to wait for the approval of the central leadership. [Congress leader] Rahul Gandhi has given us a free hand to deal with local issues. We will finalise the list and send it to [interim president] Sonia Gandhi for approval,” he said.

Interestingly, the CPI(M) does not invite applications. “Once the constituencies are confirmed, we will seek the opinion of the district committees. They will recommend the candidates,” politburo member G. Ramakrishnan said.

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