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PERSPECTIVE

A Tribune Special
Pitfalls of democracy

Corrective measures are imperative for tackling jihadi terrorism, says O.P. Sabherwal

T
his
is not the end but the beginning”: this formulation may be true, but generalisations will not do. The audacious terrorist attack in Mumbai was jihadi terrorism’s war on India. Countering organised terror by religious fundamentalism is specialised business. Even more, it is political business, i.e. harnessing the political system to meet the new threat. Between these twin facets, it is political inadequacy that poses a bigger challenge.

Time to step up maritime surveillance
by Paramjit Singh Sandhu

T
he
use of sea route for coordinated terrorist attack in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 has made effective maritime domain awareness (MDA) imperative. There is greater need for the MDA considering the size, spread and economic wealth of India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).



EARLIER STORIES

One step forward
February 14, 2009
Amarinder’s expulsion
February 13, 2009
Violence in the House
February 12, 2009
Deaths in custody
February 11, 2009
BJP in two minds
February 10, 2009
Nuke Khan is set free
February 9, 2009
To handcuff or not
February 8, 2009
Vanishing jobs
February 7, 2009
Resignation as a farce
February 6, 2009
Shorter the better
February 5, 2009
Trouble in EC
February 4, 2009
Terror networks intact
February 3, 2009



OPED

Model of governance
Haryana ARC proposals need a close look 
by Raj Kumar Siwach

T
he
Haryana Administrative Reforms Commission’s proposed restructuring has wider political and administrative ramifications as the criterion of electoral calculation is neither feasible nor practical. Instead of topographical boundaries, administrative convenience, decentralisation, efficiency in delivery of services and citizens’ satisfaction should be the main criteria.

An artist who values tradition
by Paul Vallely

I
t’s
interesting that Mark Wallinger once said he particularly likes the poetry of Keats and Shelley. It shows what an eclectic chap he is. In one contest to create Britain’s largest piece of public art, dubbed the Angel of the South because it is supposed to do for the desolate Ebbsfleet area of Kent what Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North did for the industrial wastelands of Tyneside.


Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

On Record
Ram not a political issue, says Naqvi

by Faraz Ahmad

T
he
BJP held its three-day national executive and national council session in Nagpur last week. But the leaders seemed to speak in different voices about the party’s election strategy. The Sunday Tribune speaks to BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi for a clear picture on the party’s views. Excerpts:

 


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A Tribune Special
Pitfalls of democracy
Corrective measures are imperative for tackling jihadi terrorism, says O.P. Sabherwal

This is not the end but the beginning”: this formulation may be true, but generalisations will not do. The audacious terrorist attack in Mumbai was jihadi terrorism’s war on India.

Countering organised terror by religious fundamentalism is specialised business. Even more, it is political business, i.e. harnessing the political system to meet the new threat. Between these twin facets, it is political inadequacy that poses a bigger challenge.

The task of trimming the anti-terrorism apparatus, making it ever vigilant and professional has been terribly neglected. Pitiably, it was discovered during the Mumbai mayhem, that the firepower and weapons of the Mumbai police cops were no match for those wielded by the terrorists.

About the intelligence system — intelligence dissemination even more than intelligence gathering — the less said the better. The shock administered by the Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist assault on Mumbai will hopefully compel this country to rapidly fill the gaps in building a strong, intelligent, professional anti-terrorism mechanism. First steps in this direction have been initiated: no half-way house is acceptable here.

The same cannot be said about the challenge to political inadequacy. That is going to be an arduous, complex, and a painstaking endeavour. What we have to grapple with is the working of our political system, which has lately been displaying several negative features. Some of these shortcomings have tended to overshadow the merits of democracy. Clearly, our political texture has become vulnerable, with several ailments now surfacing.

Even before the challenge of jihadi terrorism made its presence felt, our political system was out of sync with its economic prowess. The cleavage between politics and economics has been growing, with the former acting as a halter around the neck of economic advance towards the goal of an economic superpower. The projections of India becoming an economic superpower will remain a dream unless the political system is cleaned up.

There are several flaws in the working of our democracy. Vote-bank politics at the cost of national priorities, an ugly communal agenda, casteism, and rampant corruption have corroded the texture and vibrancy of the political system. How and why have these features emerged? And what are the remedies?

Democracy as a political system is a product of the industrial era, a mismatch with feudalism and its legacies. Universal adult suffrage is unthinkable in the feudal era. India, a developing country, has to find safeguards and correctives against the inflow of its feudal past and institutions. Universal adult suffrage was not a widely acceptable political framework in Asia in the forties, but the character of the Indian freedom movement made this the base of free India’s political system.

This valuable gain was consolidated by our Constitution. Seen thus, the Constitution is an admirable document – among the best in the world – bearing comparison with political frameworks of Western democracies.

The working of our democracy over five decades has shown its resilience, with strong positive features. Governance that derived its mandate from a vast population and a pluralist nationhood lent strength to the Indian state and spurred development. But the implanting of the democratic system on a variegated society which embraced a multi-ethnic and multi-religious population as also a large tribal populace and an even larger Dalit segment treated for centuries as untouchables, left gaps. Industrial societies that have adopted the democratic political system do not account for such a societal make-up.

To a considerable extent, the founders of our Constitution took these societal characteristics into account and made special provisions for a period of transition. The injustice to Dalits over centuries, uneven development embracing tribal society, the religious diversity – specially the Hindu-Muslim diversity becoming a chasm because of the partition of India on a religious base – were all sought to be dealt with by the framers of the Constitution.

A secular constitution, with stress on equality and the special needs of Dalits and the tribal populace, gave a big push to the developmental agenda – and to modernity by Nehru’s stress on modern science and advanced technology. The plus points of our democracy were widely accepted the world over; democracy emerged with flying colours through electoral tests such as the dethroning of short-lived Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in the early seventies, and the Hindutva- leaning BJP rule in the late nineties, despite a liberal Vajpayee being at its helm.

Yet, there were gaps in the political system which became chasms during evolution through five decades. Vote-bank politics based on communal, caste and ethnic diversity have become not only an aberration but a big hurdle in drawing up the system of democratic governance that delivered expected results. Such was the case even where national priorities were at stake. The communal diversity has grown into a chasm, the secular character of the state is threatened. More: These flaws have been magnified into a monstrosity of corruption by the nexus of power and money. That this nexus has been derived through adult suffrage that democracy confers makes it almost sacrosanct.

These flaws in the political system do not negate the overall strength of democratic rule. But the aberrations undermine economic advance, and in times of a national challenge such as the threat from jihadi terrorism, they subvert the national agenda.

Surely, these gaps in the political system can be covered. What is the remedy? First, break the nexus between political power and money power. Corruption at the top and monopolisation of power by coteries of political parties has to be strongly curbed. Lessons of the Indian experience have to be merged with the know how of democratic governance in industrial societies where curbing the allurement of money power by political power groups has been achieved to a considerable extent.

Second, a bipartisan approach and decision-making on major issues in the national agenda has to become the accepted norm through consensus, cutting across party lines.

Third, the pluralistic and secular values of this country have to be firmed up through constitutional and legal means. The uneven character of society, with the tribal population and the Scheduled Castes being placed at the lowest rung, has to be levelled by graded, time-bound action. The sooner it is done, the better. Steps in this direction must embrace the entire spectrum of life – education, economic opportunities and elevated value-chain.

Now, a consistent fight against terrorism has assumed paramount importance to protect the security of the citizens and sustain the democratic socio-political fabric of society. The fight against externally aided terrorists requires vigilance and a trained fighting force, equipped with modern weapons. Dealing with home-grown terrorists is more difficult, because apart from fighting skill, it requires political prowess.

The political leadership has to take adequate measures to remove the causes which lead to alienation of the underprivileged sections of the minority community from the national mainstream. The fight against both varieties of terrorism has to be given top priority. 

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Time to step up maritime surveillance
by Paramjit Singh Sandhu

The use of sea route for coordinated terrorist attack in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 has made effective maritime domain awareness (MDA) imperative. There is greater need for the MDA considering the size, spread and economic wealth of India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

India has two coastlines that are over 7,500 km long, which is nearly half as long as the land borders of 15,900 km. A comparison of 3.3 million square km land area with the 3.5 million square km of ocean (2 million square km of EEZ up to 200 km plus approximately 1.5 million square km of extended continental shelf up to 350 km) highlights the need of a new formula to allocate defense budget in proportion to the areas (size) of responsibility, strategic importance and their economic worth.

The budget allocation for maritime security (not Naval or Coast Guard ship procurement) needs to be increased and the available resources should be utilised economically in consonance with the current and future national maritime security needs. The simplistic comparison of the cost of procurement vis-à-vis the potency of fire power are shortsighted assessments and one needs to include the lifecycle cost, flexibility of single unit deployment, tied support necessary for operation in hostile environment and the risk to life of onboard personnel.

The protection of the EEZ, seaborne trade and credible capability to ensure fulfillment of national political and military objectives at sea constitutes India’s maritime security. For water-tight maritime security, all the constabulary and naval defense forces need to be coherent. The MDA can be effective if there is optimum deployment of constabulary force and expensive naval weapon systems during peace and war.

According to the Eighth Report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (June 2008), the strategy for fighting terror in India has to be evolved in the overall context of a national security strategy. National security, in its broadest sense, means security of life and property of every citizen in the country as well as the common wealth of the nation, which belongs to all. National security is a comprehensive and dynamic concept that is related to the capability of the country to maintain its sovereignty and independence.

Apart from the military power, it represents the balance-sheet of a nation’s achievement in diplomatic, economic, technical, social and other fields of national endeavour. Easy availability of cell phones have made it easy for one to coordinate and control terrorist activities across the borders. Despite best efforts, illegal narcotics trade continues across the coastal waters of India and developed nations like the US. These smugglers have no ethics, moral values and will do anything for money.

While replying to a debate in the Lok Sabha on December 11, 2008, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: “I am conscious that our systems and procedures need review. On behalf of the Government, I would like to apologise to our people for the fact that these dastardly acts could not be prevented. The Mumbai incident has highlighted gaps in our preparedness to deal with these kinds of assaults. We need to equip ourselves more effectively to deal with this unprecedented threat and challenge to our country’s integrity and unity…The need for stronger measures to protect our coastline has been highlighted before, but the progress on ground in this regards has obviously been tardy and too slow.”

Surely, national security cannot persist without addressing maritime threat perceptions by the optimum integration of all available means of national power. The same has been seen on the land borders. Sizeable portion of the land forces are involved in securing land borders by continuous armed surveillance, patrolling sensitive areas and collecting intelligence. The means to achieve national security are also limited due to procurement and operating costs. The procurement of eight Boeing 737-800 based P8-I MMA (Maritime Multi-mission Aircraft) with a nose bomb bay and armed with harpoon anti shipping missile, is timely.

However, the cost of $ 2+ billion vs. capability and operational risk management for the required task goes in the favour of armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). There is an urgent need to acquire a few surveillance aerostats and flights of armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). These could be deployed sector wise along the coast and island territories in a synchronous and overlapping pattern of operation.

The Long Range Maritime Patrol (LRMP) could be employed over safe waters to have real time data link with UAVs deployed in harm’s way. Unmanned under water Vehicles (UUVs) are recommended for sub surface surveillance of our maritime areas of interest. These could also be integrated with the LRMPs. The UAVs and UUVs are difficult to detect and engage by enemy offensive or defensive forces. A peacetime accident or incident of UAVs does not create international media hype even if it takes place in the enemy territory. Since in the current time of crises, the lone aircraft carrier is under refit at Kochi, more fighters of IAF should be integrated for maritime security.

Owing to the limited line of sight ranges of surface ships, effective surveillance of India’s maritime economic zones is viable only from the air. This would require setting up of a Joint Maritime Air Command (JMAC) under the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) through Head Quarters Integrated Defence Staff (IDS). The JMAC due to the nature of its tasking should be commanded by an officer with maritime aviation background and have a mix of Air Force, Navy, Army, Coast Guards and para military personnel.

Any maritime strategy without adequate integration of UAVs will not only be wasteful and undesirable but also fall short of meeting the needs of MDA and national economic security. Setting up of a JMAC under HQ, the IDS is a must to ensure a highly integrated maritime security and professionally sound management of maritime airspace and control.n

The writer, a retired IAF Group Captain, has done doctoral thesis on India’s maritime security from Punjabi University, Patiala

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Model of governance
Haryana ARC proposals need a close look 
by Raj Kumar Siwach

The Haryana Administrative Reforms Commission’s proposed restructuring has wider political and administrative ramifications as the criterion of electoral calculation is neither feasible nor practical. Instead of topographical boundaries, administrative convenience, decentralisation, efficiency in delivery of services and citizens’ satisfaction should be the main criteria.

It envisages carving out of 15 districts, 45 sub-divisions, 90 tehsils, 180 Kangaroo circles and 1800 Patwar circles out of the present 21 districts, 47 sub-divisions, 70 tehsils, 47 sub-tehsils, 119 blocks and 6,764 villages.

As regards the criminal justice system, it says that the lack of coordination between the Investigation Officers (IOs) and the Public Prosecutors (PPs) is leading to erroneous data on FIR registration, challans, conviction and acquittal rate. It wants a separate committee on security and investigation. The prosecution and law and order authorities comprising the DC, the SP and the District Attorney should evaluate the professional success and failure rates of IOs and PPs and take remedial steps accordingly.

However, this remedy is lopsided. The Commission hould consider other issues of police reforms. These include compulsory and prompt FIR registration, complete functional autonomy of the police, special drive for the recruitment of police officials and judges and separation of investigation and law and order wings. To examine the misconduct and abuse of powers, the District Police Complaint Authority and District Police Performance and Accountability Commission are needed.

It dealt with the career planning for the appointment of DCs and SPs. For instance, the DC should have a minimum experience of nine years in the IAS; two years as SDM or similar experience in the Finance Department or Chief Secretary’s office; two years as ADC, one year as Administrator HUDA/ Commissioner Municipal Corporation, Registrar of Universities and MD in PSUs.

The Commission has laid down broad parameters for more structured and enabled system to evaluate and coordinate complaints received in the offices of the DC, SP and SDM to be reviewed by the Divisional Commissioner. The ACRs of DCs, SPs and SDMs and others should have a column on responsiveness to public grievances and redressal thereof.

In addition, this should be supplemented by more powers and enactment of rules for the Lokayukta and the culture of openness under the RTI regime. An effective system of public grievances calls for radical transformation in the mindset of the governing elites.

In the words of Ramsay McDonald, the DC acts as a tortoise which supports the elephant upon which rests the government. He is preoccupied with steering around 100 committees in the district. The HARC recommended their regrouping into committees on Agriculture, Development and Social Welfare, Health and Social Welfare, General Coordination and Law and Order Coordination.

There is no need for more ADCs. However, the DDPO should be empowered to supervise all categories of pensions. There should be three Cluster Coordinators by synchronising the activities of 68 departments and 38 PSUs under the DC’s overall control. In this regard, the HARC has missed the opportunity to hive off developmental functions to the panchayats.

The HARC has suggested a reasonably fixed tenure for all district officers in the posting orders. They should not transfer prematurely except in the cases of promotion, incapacity, misbehaviour, criminal proceedings and prestigious higher assignment. The extension, if public interest demands, can be allowed. The transfer before the fixed tenure should be recorded on the file with reasons.

The HARC has proposed target-oriented performance and appraisals. The Quarterly Self Appraisal Report should show self-fixed targets and priorities of the heads which should be shared amongst the officer concerned, immediate controlling officer and the DC on the last day of April, July, October and January. The ACR formats should contain the columns on achievements in the departmental targets, promptness in redressal of public grievances, courteous with public and public representatives and integrity.

In the wake of challenges posed by globalisation, IT, economic growth and social justice, the DCs need proper training to make them “highly mature and shrewd manager of contradictions”. Other employees, too, need job- specific training for efficient handling of the assigned tasks. Retired officers can impart training as resources persons. Training should be linked to promotion.

Sadly, we don’t have house think-tanks to assess the future needs and designing and implementing the public policy. In the US, France, Australia and Sweden, technical competence and specialisation of high order are given primacy. In China, civil servants are sacked for low efficiency level.

Our civil servants, too, should be reoriented to learn the patterns of defence services, IIMs, London School of Economics and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They should learn the best innovative practices like the Beat Officer System of Trichy Community Policing (Tamil Nadu), Chintan Shivars and Nirmal Mission (Gujarat), Ashraya (Kerala), Bhoomi (Karnataka), Lokvani (UP), e-Sewa (Andhra Pradesh) and Online School System (Delhi).

The state public service commissions too need overhaul. Those in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra and Punjab have become money-minting machines. The written examinations and interviews have become formalities as merit is purchased by contacts and money power.

The present administrative culture gives an impression that it is not the rules and regulations but the rapport and contacts with the powers that matter in official transactions. Sycophants, power brokers and coteries manoeuvre the ruling elites and get the lion’s share in the recruitment, postings, transfers and promotions. This must stop if Haryana has to progress and march forward.

The Chief Minister should implement the HARC’s recommendations to fulfill his promise made before the State Assembly to make Haryana free from fear and corruption. The intelligentsia, the media, the judiciary and NGOs should also launch a crusade against corrupt and insensitive governance.

The writer is Reader in Public Admini-stration, Ch. Devi Lal University, Sirsa 

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An artist who values tradition
by Paul Vallely

It’s interesting that Mark Wallinger once said he particularly likes the poetry of Keats and Shelley. It shows what an eclectic chap he is. In one contest to create Britain’s largest piece of public art, dubbed the Angel of the South because it is supposed to do for the desolate Ebbsfleet area of Kent what Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North did for the industrial wastelands of Tyneside.

Mark Wallinger
Mark Wallinger

Giant pieces of art aren’t Wallinger’s usual thing, though he is such a wide-ranging artist, working for 20 years with paint, photography, sculpture, video, performance and installation, that it’s hard to say what his usual thing is.

“Conceptual” is the word the critics use. But that doesn’t really help, since it conjures up in the public mind Hirst’s pickled shark or Ofili’s elephant dung and all manner of other invitations to red-top ridicule. Mark Wallinger’s relationship with that crowd of Not So Young British Artists, with whom he shared the platform of the seminal Sensation exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1997, has always been rather ambiguous.

Keats and Shelley underline that ambiguity, for they were part of the first wave of the Romantic movement which elevated originality above the notion of art as a growing tradition in which each generation stands on the shoulders of those who went before. Mark Wallinger is an artist who values tradition considerably more than most of his contemporaries and his innovation is the more significant for it.

In one sense, it is easy to see how he came to be lumped in with them. He was born in Chigwell in 1959 and studied at the Chelsea School of Art and then Goldsmiths College. Success came early. The entire contents of his 1985 Goldsmiths degree show were whisked into a London gallery. A few years later, his oil portraits of his friends masquerading as homeless people outside City institutions were snapped up by the leading collector of contemporary art, Charles Saatchi.

There was an irony in the purchase, for Saatchi’s advertising company, which had created the political campaigns on which Margaret Thatcher won power, stood for a politics that enraged Wallinger.
The class consciousness of his Essex childhood saw to that and it did not desert him. His next significant work, also bought by Saatchi, was a series of majestic paintings of stallions from the stud of a foreign sheikh. He called them Race, Class and Sex (1992).

It was “no accident”, Wallinger said acidly, that the aristocracy is so interested in breeding. The money allowed Wallinger himself to buy a racehorse which he named A Real Work of Art.

The wheeze, along with his series of naturalistic paintings of hybrid horses, brought him a Turner Prize nomination in 1995. Like the horse, however, he didn’t win. (Damien Hirst did.) But if Wallinger was capable of the usual Turner Prize shenanigans and remains so, as he showed with his 2005 piece Sleeper, a 154-minute film of him wandering around a deserted German gallery disguised as a bear, he is clearly possessed of something more.

That was shown by the piece for which is now best known, a life-size sculpture of Christ which he called Ecce Homo (1999) which was shown temporarily on the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square.

What Wallinger understands is the power of reinterpreting traditional symbols so they speak to his own time. He is against innovating for innovation’s sake. He knows that some things haven’t been done before because they aren’t worth doing. But he has an uncanny eye for images that will resonate with something that lies buried deep in the public imagination.

“I think art needs to engage the viewer,” he has said, “and has to have a hook that isn’t entirely cerebral.” He demonstrated that in his film Angel (1997) in which an everyman, dressed in black trousers, white shirt and dark glasses, recites the opening of the Gospel of St John, “in the beginning was the Word”.

But he spoke the verses backwards while walking to a standstill on the up escalator at the Angel Tube station, and then showing the film backwards on the side of the South Bank Centre. The familiar words sounded in a weird and unfamiliar way. It was mesmerising. At the Oxford Museum of Natural History in 2000 he tried something to capture the imagination of children and express something about what a museum is for.

By arrangement with The Independent

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On Record
Ram not a political issue, says Naqvi
by Faraz Ahmad

The BJP held its three-day national executive and national council session in Nagpur last week. But the leaders seemed to speak in different voices about the party’s election strategy. The Sunday Tribune speaks to BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi for a clear picture on the party’s views. Excerpts:

Q: Did the Nagpur meet identify the main issues for the Lok Sabha elections?

A: A secure and prosperous India for all including youth, minorities, weaker sections, women and their empowerment. The country’s socio-economic situation should be visibly strong and everyone should feel secure from terrorism, naxalism, goondaism and mafias.

Q: What about Ram Mandir?

A: It is not a political issue. We want the Ram Mandir to be constructed either through negotiations or courts. But unfortunately our political opponents, who talk of secularism, have now become the biggest champions of the Mandir and are always raising the issue of mosque and temple. They keep on egging the BJP to fulfill its promise. They just want the issue to remain alive to exploit the votes of certain sections.

Q: But why did Mr Rajnath Singh repeatedly raise the issue at Nagpur?

A: Ram is our pride; it’s not a political issue. We are proud of our cultural nationalism and are committed to promoting it.

Q: Will it be included in your party manifesto?

A: I don’t know. Dr Murli Manohar Joshi is drafting the manifesto. But Mandir is not a political issue with the BJP.

Q: You called Union Minister A.R. Antulay an ISI agent when he said that the 26/11 Mumbai terrorists must have had accomplices in India. Now Mr Narendra Modi says the same thing. Why?

A: I don’t brand anyone an ISI agent without sufficient reason. A person’s patriotism cannot be questioned merely by his line of political thinking.

Q: Mr L.K. Advani has asked all front rank leaders to contest elections but exempted Mr Venkaiah Naidu and Mr Arun Jaitley. Is he unsure of their victory at the hustings?

A: Mr Rajnath Singh, Dr Joshi, Ms Sushma Swaraj are all contesting. I am also in the fray. Mr Naidu and Mr Jaitley have to look after election management. In 2004, when I and Sushmaji looked after the poll management, we did not contest.

Q: Of late, Mr Advani has been talking of no untouchability in politics. Is he preparing th ground for aligning with the Congress in the post-poll scenario?

A: We are totally opposed to the Congress and the Communists because their ideology and past actions have harmed the country’s interests. So we won’t ally with them. But the new government will depend upon several regional parties. Most UPA partners today were in the NDA before 2004. In a coalition era, there are pre-poll and post-poll allies. We have to see which party between the Congress and the BJP succeeds in fulfilling the aspirations of the regional parties? Most of them have no commitment to the Congress or the BJP.

For example, the BJP manifesto will be different from those of other parties. Yet, there will be a common agenda of governance of the alliance. No party can force the other to abandon its agenda. In effect, there can be no untouchability in politics and all options are open in this era of coalition.

Q: The BJP made a head start over other parties for the ensuing general elections. In December 2007, Mr Advani was declared as the prime ministerial candidate and in January last year the NDA endorsed it. Since then, the BJP has been claiming that the process of selection of candidates will be completed well in advance. The last deadline you set was January 28 and 29. But so far the party didn’t announce even 100 candidates. Why?

A: The process of selection of candidates is progressing well. But we have alliances in states like Bihar, Orissa, Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra where we have to work out the candidate selection process with our trusted NDA allies. Moreover, the new delimitation has changed the complexion of each constituency and that is why we have to proceed with greater care.

Even otherwise, we have already identified over 250 candidates. The state units have cleared the names and sent them to the Central Election Committee (CEC) which will have to just announce these names.

Q: Aren’t the internecine squabbles bothering you?

A: This is not an issue of grave concern. After all, ours is a big party and is very democratic. Inner-party democracy gives strength to our party. In the process of selection, some candidates may feel that they have a better claim. But ultimately the party decides what is good for the party.

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