Justice Markandey Katju: BJP’s first list indicates another five-year saffron wave

Justice Markandey Katju

By Justice Markandey Katju–

(Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman of, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)

Prime Minister Narandra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has released its first list of 195 candidates in 16 states for this year’s Lok Sabha (lower House of the Indian Parliament) elections.

There are 34 Union Ministers, two Chief Ministers, 28 women and 47 youth candidates in this list. Since the BJP’s strongest support is from the upper caste Hindus, of special interest is that 57 OBC, 27 SC and 18 ST candidates are in this list, showing the importance the BJP gives to winning the votes of these castes. The BJP leaders claim the party will win over 370 seats, and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by it over 400, out of the total 543 seats for which the elections will be held.

This may well be true considering the surcharged and polarized situation in India. However, much will depend on what happens in southern states, UP, MP, Bihar, and West Bengal.

There is only one Muslim, Abdul Salam of Kerala, in the list. Since Muslims constitute almost 15 per cent of India’s population, and they have many genuine grievances, the BJP leaders would be well advised to have more Muslims in their next lists, in order to allay the community’s fears, and justify the slogan, “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas.”

One-fifth of the sitting MPs, including seniors such as Dr Harsh Vardhan and Meenakshi Lekhi from Delhi, and Pragya Singh Thakur from Madhya Pradesh, are not on the list, and it is said that this was done after reviewing the performance of the incumbent lawmakers.

So confident is Prime Minister Narendra Modi of winning the elections that he has taken it for granted, and has asked all Union ministers to send him their program of work for 90 days after the elections are over. India seems all set to have another saffron wave for the next five years.

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