In marketing, consumers are the kings: in electioneering, voters are the masters. In marketing, different companies display their products to attract consumers who make their choice; in the run up to elections, political parties field their candidates to enable voters to pick up one, obviously the right one.

Therefore, selection of the right aspirant as a candidate is of paramount importance for political parties.  
As only a few months are left for elections to the Lok Sabha and Odisha Vidhan Sabha, all the three major political parties – ruling BJD, opposition Congress and BJP -- are now busy selecting a suitable candidate for each constituency.
The ensuing poll is important for the three parties because BJD had already completed 18 years in office. The two opposition parties consider that the people of Odisha would certainly opt for a change in 2019.  
While BJP banks on the achievements of the the Narendra Modi Government at the Centre, Congress highlights failure of both the saffron party and the regional outfit. Congress hopes that since the party has its presence across the state, it will be easy for the oldest party to win polls provided it puts credible candidates.

Similarly, BJP has launched a manhunt to select the right candidates to give a tough fight to opponents. BJD which has 114 Lawmakers in the House of 147 and has captured 20 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats, also plans not to field all the old candidates this time.

The regional party has been searching for new faces in many constituencies as some of its existing representatives have earned the reputation of being contractors for over-staying in power.
 All three parties are desperately searching for credible candidates for the ensuing polls.

BJP, however, is in a dilemma in making candidate selection.   Followers of the Sangh ideology are expecting to get BJP tickets.
However, a recent statement of BJP National President Amit Shah has created confusion among them.

Mr.Shah during his July 1 visit has categorically said that the party will field the candidates who have ‘Winning Prospect’.
If such winning horses are not available in the party, Mr.Shah asked the state leadership not to hesitate in hiring credible candidates from other parties. BJP means business and this time it will have to capture power in the state.

Sources also said that BJP has been eying the leaders who will be denied tickets by BJD. It, however, did not take into the account what happened to Ashok Panigrahi’s candidature at Bijepur by-poll. The saffron party had put Panigrahi, a BJD rejected leader, as its candidate in Bijepur after dropping its long trusted Narayan Sahu. 

Though BJP leaders make tall claims to form government in Odisha in 2019, the fact remains that the party does not have effective candidates for all the 147 Assembly and 21 Lok Sabha constituencies.

Similarly, Congress though having a pan-Odisha network is also facing candidate crisis. OPCC President Niranjan Patnaik has already announced that Congress will announce names of 50 candidates in the first phase by the end of August.

However, when the party leadership sits down to choose candidates, it faces difficulty in getting credible candidates to motivate people and defeat the rivals.

Take for instance the situation of Bhubaneswar. The state capital region has three Assembly seats: Bhubaneswar-North, Bhubaneswar-Central and Bhubaneswar-Ekamra.
The state leadership is unable to find out suitable candidates for these three seats. Similar is the case in other constituencies in politically sensitive districts like Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur and Puri. Niranjan Patnaik is in a fix to choose credible candidates for all the constituencies.
In BJD, the situation though better than others, candidate selection also poses challenge to the state leadership. It is another matter that the people of Odisha have in the past voted for BJD candidates in the name and fame of Naveen Patnaik.
But, many times, it is seen that people after getting elected to the Assembly or Lok Sabha in the name of Naveen Patnaik, forget the voters who sent them to the House. Some of them have ended up in becoming touts and contractors.

The use of luxury cars and SUVs by BJD leaders shows how they serve people. A natural question that hits people is that wherefrom do thes leaders get money for maintaining such lavish lifestyle, while Naveen still maintains a simple lifestyle?

Though Naveen Patnaik continues to remain the undisputed leader in Odisha, BJD leadership should not take people for granted that they will vote for all and sundry who are fielded by the regional party.

They have done it four times earlier and they may not repeat the same in 2019. If the people get a better choice in either Congress or BJP, they will not hesitate to forget BJD and Naveen Patnaik’s people-oriented programmes. 
Therefore, selecting credible candidates is important also for BJD, as it is essential for both the opposition parties.

Under the changed circumstances, credible candidates are very important for the political parties.

All the parties have already accepted it to be a fact that they have to spend money to get their candidates elected. But there is no sense in spending money in elections unless the party fields credible candidates.
It is also a fact that a party can ensure victory of a credible candidate by spending less amount of money than the rivals.
A survey, conducted ahead of the Karnataka Assembly elections, reveals that 86 percent of the respondents consider the candidate the most important reason for them to vote in the Assembly elections.

The survey also finds that about 67 percent consider the candidate’s party to be a major factor and about 42 percent say that they would vote based on the Chief Ministerial candidate. The survey was conducted by the Association for Democratic Reforms and DAKSH, a civil society organization.
So far voters are concerned, in the elections in 2019, credible candidates having winning prospects will be favoured and it will be a herculean task for all the three major parties to find such candidates.
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