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People’s jury to screen Lok Sabha candidates

- 10-member citizen panel will evaluate nominees on education, political vision & clean record

Ranchi, Feb. 9: Before ballot test, there’s a screen test for aspiring MPs.

As political parties gear up for Lok Sabha elections, a small band of citizens led by former Justice of Jharkhand High Court Vikramaditya Prasad will hand report cards to nominees to help voters choose right.

For, a people’s jury under Bharatiya Suraaj Manch — a national outfit formed by a group of intellectuals in 2013 to ensure good governance by making people conscious about their democratic rights — has been constituted in the state.

The chief task of this 10-member jury will be to assist people in electing a suitable candidate from his or her constituency.

“We are waiting for the parties to declare their candidates’ lists for 14 Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand. Once they do so, we will evaluate them on parameters like age, educational qualification, health, criminal cases if any, past record of social service, political vision, among others,” Prasad said.

He added candidates would get marks so that voters get a merit list of candidates.

Prasad was speaking on the sidelines of a website launch of Bharatiya Suraaj Manch at Jharkhand Civil Services Institute in Ranchi.

“Elections are fought mostly on the strength of money and muscle power. Over the past six decades, there has been a steady deterioration in almost all spheres of our lives, thanks to the elected public representatives. This has to stop now,” Prasad stressed.

An official announcement of the people’s jury was also made.

Apart from Prasad, the jury comprises former Jharkhand chief secretary Lakshmi Singh, retired IAS officer Mukhtiyar Singh, former Jharkhand Chamber of Commerce of Commerce and Industry general secretary R.D. Singh, human rights activist Gladson Dungdung, former advocate general of Jharkhand Suhail Anwar, senior journalist Srinivas, former additional director general of police P.K. Siddharth, tribal scholar S.N. Munda and labour leader Laldeo Singh.

“We do not expect political parties to co-operate with us. We intend to act as a pressure group to prevail upon them to let only the clean and meritorious candidates contest the polls. This experiment will be repeated during the Jharkhand Assembly elections too,” Laxmi Singh said.

Former-IPS officer P.K. Siddharth said their aim was to maximise people’s participation in parliamentary and Assembly polls.

“People’s participation in the democratic process begins with their choosing the right candidates,” Siddharth added.