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BJP to field consensus candidates in panchayat polls


GUWAHATI, Jan 18 - The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fixed certain criteria for selection of candidates for the forthcoming panchayat polls, while also putting thrust on having its nominees picked on the basis of consensus.

As part of its effort to make the candidate selection process more decentralised and transparent, the saffron party has decided not to seek applications or requests for candidature from any of its cadres and to instead rely on suggestions and recommendations from its booth committees and sympathisers.

�Acceptability of the masses, support of our party cadres and winnability are among the criteria which will be factored into while selecting party candidates for the panchayat elections. We will take the views and suggestions of not only our party cadres but also our sympathisers in selection of our nominees,� State BJP general secretary Dilip Saikia told The Assam Tribune today. All booth committees have been directed to hold one general meeting each to seek suggestions from the public in this regard.

He added, �Our thrust is on having consensus candidates. We have already issued directions to our booth committees in this regard. This time we have decided not to seek any applications from prospective candidates. Rather, they have to be acceptable to the party cadres and the masses.�

The BJP has formed a three-tier panel for the selection process. Panels have been formed for selection of candidates for the gaon panchayats, anchalik panchayats and zila parishads.

�For example, in case of gaon panchayat members the panel for selection of candidates will comprise the �shaktikendra� in-charge, respective booth presidents, mandal presidents and mandal pravaris. Similar panels will also function for other tiers of the panchayats,� said Saikia. For transparency, all recommendations from the booth committees will have to be in written format.

Saikia refuted the charge of opposition parties that BJP is responsible for delay in announcement of the polls. �We always wanted the polls on schedule. But the NRC update work, which is very crucial, and the Board exams in February-March mean that the polls may be held only around April-May. But we still want the polls before onset of the rainy season,� he said. The State BJP has also supported the government�s decision to fix minimum educational qualification for candidates seeking to contest the polls.

�This will mean better functioning of the panchayat system and also eliminate rule by proxy resorted to by people with vested interests. It will also mean that the informal system of panch-patis and sarpanch-patis, whereby husbands used to rule on behalf of their wives in reserved seats, will end. There are 29 departments under the panchayati system and the panchayats mainly run on Central funding. Various circulars, guidelines and handbooks are issued. So elected representatives need minimum educational qualification to provide better services to the rural electorate,� Saikia said.

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