The Telegraph
Wednesday , April 9 , 2014
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Small parties score on awareness

Candidates of regional parties and some Independents are more aware of the issues plaguing their respective constituencies than their counterparts in national biggies.

The verdict has come from Bharatiya Suraaj Manch, a civil society initiative for good governance, which has evaluated Lok Sabha nominees of four constituencies — Chatra, Palamau, Koderma and Lohardaga — which will go to polls in Jharkhand’s first round on April 10.

Justice Vikramaditya Prasad, a former Jharkhand High Court judge who heads the state jury of the Manch, released the evaluation report on Tuesday.

“Except Khunti, we have set up people’s jury, comprising eminent personalities, in 13 constituencies of Jharkhand to evaluate candidates of all major state and national parties based on their records of public service, vision, image, manifesto for respective constituency, criminal background, if any, comprehension of issues et al. The juries for Chatra, Palamau, Koderma and Lohardaga have submitted their reports, which were critically examined by the state jury and approved,” Prasad added.

He further pointed out that the initiative was not an opinion poll or an exit poll to predict which candidate would win or lose. It is neither a rating of political parties.

“We merely evaluated the candidates to check out whether they are suitable for the constituencies they have been chosen for,” Prasad added.

The findings make it clear that candidates of small parties are more tuned to the ground realities in the places where they are contesting from.

For example, in Chatra, out of 10 candidates evaluated, Sudhanshu Suman, an Independent, was found to be more knowledgeable about matters related to his constituency followed by Banwari Sahu of CPI and Alam Asrafee of Rashtriya Jankranti Morcha, the report said.

While CPI has been recognised as a national party by the Election Commission, the Rashtriya Jankranti Morcha is listed as a registered party in the state.

Lohardaga was the only exception with the BJP’s Sudarshan Bhagat adjudged as the most knowledgeable candidate followed by Rameshwar Oraon of Congress (see chart).

A political outfit gets the status of a state party if it wins at least 4 per cent of the Lok Sabha seats or a minimum of 3.33 per cent of seats in the legislative Assembly in the particular state.

A state party, which is recognised in at least four states, is given the status of a national party.

“The next rounds of polls in Jharkhand are slated in Giridih, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Singhbhum, Khunti and Hazaribagh on April 17 and Rajmahal, Godda, Dumka and Dhanbad on April 24. The Manch will come up with similar report cards for the other two phases as well before the polling dates,” P.K. Siddharth, national convener of Bharatiya Suraaj Manch, told The Telegraph.

Other members of the Manch’s state jury present at the release of the report were retired state chief secretary Laxmi Singh, mediapersons Srinivas and Suman K. Srivastava, former general secretary of Federation of Jharkhand Chamber of Commerce and Industries R.D. Singh and agriculture scientist Shivendra Kumar.

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