GUWAHATI, March 17 - With the political system drawing flak for the avarice of public representatives, rampant corruption, criminalisation, blatant show of muscle power etc., the electorate have expressed their desire for reformation within the different political parties.
Voters of the capital city, though keen about the forthcoming Assembly election, unanimously agree that political parties should make it public the criteria for selection of candidates as the selection process is the single-most important question resolving which could create a corruption-free democracy in the country.
A resident of the city, Tasaduk Ariful Hussain, who is also the chairperson and founder trustee of the North East Social Trust, voicing his opinion said that in a democratic process, it is very important to know how an individual of a political party is being selected as a candidate for a constituency out of many applicants for the post.
�What are the criteria for selection? Are there any set norms? If so, why the norms for selection of candidates for each political party are not in the public domain?� he asked, adding that as political parties are not bound to publicly declare the selection criteria of candidates, the State polity is witnessing the prominence of ever increasing domination of money power.
�This domination of money power is taking away the basic ethos of the democracy in the State. In the existing State Assembly, 50 MLAs (40 per cent) are crorepatis out of 126 MLAs. The average wealth of each of these MLAs is Rs 1.37 crore. It shows how the democracy is going away from the ordinary citizens of Assam, where 36 per cent of the citizens are Below Poverty Line,� said Hussain, adding that if wealth is the criterion for selection of a candidate to represent a political party, political parties should have the courage to declare it publicly and come out of their disguise.
All major political parties are almost done with declaring their candidates for the various constituencies of Assam for the forthcoming Assembly election. The lists of the parties show some big names, some known names and some that have never been heard before. The electorate will have to cast their vote for or against these candidates.
Hussain said that the second important reason for which all the political parties should declare their criteria for candidate selection in public domain is to reduce muscle power in politics. �It is an alarming trend to notice that each of the political parties has candidates with criminal records,� said Hussain.
It needs to be mentioned that around 10 per cent of the incumbent MLAs of the State have declared criminal cases against them. �Do 10 per cent of ordinary citizens of Assam have criminal backgrounds? Obviously not! In that case, why are the people of Assam being represented by so many MLAs with criminal records? It is important to note that eight per cent of the MLAs have serious criminal cases like theft, kidnapping, rape, murder, etc,� pointed out Hussain.
A youth leader, Ranjan K Baruah said that every citizen has the right to know how political parties select their candidates as the candidates they choose represent the public.
�The time has come for political parties to seriously think of reformation within. If the country has to prosper and corruption is to be eliminated, the beginning should be made within the political parties,� said Baruah, insisting that there must be transparency in selection and individuals with clean image, good track record, commitment and sound understanding of the system and policies must be given priority.
�When a person with criminal records is given ticket then it means that there is no internal democracy in the party and this is very unfortunate. As voters, we can exercise NOTA if needed to show our democratic voting rights and send a strong message to all political parties that people in general would not select someone who is not worthy,� said Baruah.
Another young professional, Pallabi Barthakur of the Wireless area, also called for a change. �To bring about a change in the system it is important that political parties declare on what criteria they have selected their candidates,� she said.
Citizens also questioned whether the political parties care for the academic backgrounds of the candidates. It is worth mentioning that around 34 per cent of the MLAs of the present Assembly have not even completed their basic graduation. Out of them, 15 MLAs have not even passed 10th standard.
The electorate have asserted that it is important for the political parties to declare the criteria for selecting a candidate, observing that otherwise these political parties will be held responsible for weakening the democracy.