Contesting LS poll: Arun Jaitley has set an example for many others

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While Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh have stolen most focus after the BJP declared its crucial fourth list of candidates, one must not forget Arun Jaitley for his candidature from Amritsar in Punjab is no less historic.

Jaitley replaced sitting MP Navjot Singh Sidhu as the BJP candidate from Amritsar.

Jaitley, 63, is a senior member of the saffron party. He is involved with the BJP for over three decades now, is a reputed lawyer, had been a minister in the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and served as a vocal leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha in the 15th Lok Sabha. But his decision to contest the Lok Sabha election (first time ever) sets an example which many other politicians of our democracy should follow.

Jaitley took the tougher route

Jaitley, as a heavyweight parliamentarian, could have easily returned to the 16th Lok Sabha as a member of the Upper House. But he chose to take the tougher route, which is through the Lok Sabha, to make the very purpose of India's representative democracy fruitful. Some would say his personal desire drove him but that is no crime for a politician. After all, each of the contestants who fight the election do so because of an ambition.

Manmohan Singh never cared for a LS seat

But Jaitley has sent a clear message to those politicians who feel nervous to gauge the people's mind and take the safer route to the parliament, which is the Rajya Sabha. Take for example, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The man, despite his positive image when he took over the top office in 2004, did not care to contest a Lok Sabha election to consolidate his authority. He continued to serve as an MP of the Rajya Sabha, a factor which his critics often raised while highlighting his failure.

Same with the 'escapist' leaders of the Left and Right

The same applies to the CPI(M) politburo and the RSS. Ideologically located at the opposite extremes, both these bodies have followed a same working style over the years and that is: to keep away from elections but never let an opportunity to influence the elected representatives go waste. We have seen how former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had serious differences with the RSS leadership over government policies and how the likes of Prakash Karat have caused discomfort to elected leaders like Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee (former chief minister of West Bengal). Can the Mohan Bhagwats and Prakash Karats contest the election once to taste the harsh reality of the political world?

High time we stop the outsiders' influence

Jaitley has set a precedent before all the election-unfriendly leaders of the India democracy. The style of influencing a political outfit from outside, even at the cost of ruining it, has got a legitimacy in India mainly because the tendency to not contest election and yet dominate the public life has been encouraged over the years. It is high time we put an end to this.

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