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Wannabe MPs to face people’s jury

What do you do before buying the hottest wheels from an overcrowded car market? You possibly refer to popular online reviews.

So, what must you do before pitching the best leader to the throne of democracy? Seek help from the people’s jury, says Bharatiya Suraaj Manch — a civil society initiative to ensure good governance — which plans to rate the worthiness of every conspicuous candidate in the fray at least five days ahead of D-Day and give voters a ready reckoner before they press the button.

The Lok Sabha elections span three phases to include all the 14 hot seats in Jharkhand. While Chatra, Lohardaga, Koderma and Palamau parliamentary constituencies go to polls on April 10, Rajmahal, Godda, Dumka and Dhanbad will be put to test a fortnight later. In between, on April 17, six major seats — Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Hazaribagh, Singhbhum, Khunti and Giridih — will face the democratic trial.

Speaking to The Telegraph on Sunday, national convener of the Manch P.K. Siddharth said they would come out with a report card for each phase.

“All candidates named by major political parties as well as notable Independents will be rated on a scale of 10. There is provision for negative marking if a nominee has criminal antecedents or his/her integrity is in question from popular perspective. Other parameters include intellectual grasp, knowledge of current affairs, record of social work, vision for the future and individual manifesto, if any,” Siddharth said.

Ten- to fifteen-member people’s juries, being set up for each Lok Sabha constituency, will evaluate more than 200 candidates. Already nine juries have been formed for Jamshedpur, Singhbhum, Dumka, Rajmahal, Palamau, Chatra, Koderma, Lohardaga and Hazaribagh (see chart).

“Juries in the remaining seats will be set up by the month-end,” the Manch convener said.

Members of the jury will talk to the wannabe MPs and a cross-section of people — women, Dalits, minorities, farmers, businessmen, working class, students, et al — from their respective constituencies.

“All interactions will be recorded in writing, even in case a candidate refuses to be interviewed. Each member of a jury will mark a candidate separately in an evaluation sheet, which has already been formatted. The average of the scores will be taken to rate a candidate,” Siddharth said, adding that the duly signed evaluation sheets would be preserved for future reference.

The ultimate aim, he summed up, was to scout for potentially sound candidates for the state Assembly elections, for which reasonable time is left.


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