by Vijaykumar Patil and Uday Kinjawadekar
AAB, Apr.29: “Bit mixed, getting 100% pure quality product is a rarity, like in elections: Is there any 100% pure (read clean) candidate with his hands not soiled in corrupt practices and criminal activities? You don’t check there and blindly buy whatever is available. The need of the hour is to look beyond constructing individual toilets and keeping the environment clean: “Swachhata Abhiyan should be implemented in corridors of power so that every citizen has his or her share in nation’s progress and wealth as against consolidating into the hands of few.”
Oh My God! Well, that was an unexpected response from a per with good educational qualifications but running a grocery store-keeper in the city when one of the authors of this story wanted to know if the Jowar he was selling was of one single variety or mixed quality. He suggested him to buy directly from the farmer if he wanted the food grain of single variety, not mixed by two or three varieties of different qualities as being done these days for more profits by the traders and some farmers too. A bitter and well-known truth, yet it was convincing.
But, from where should one get a pure or an ideal candidate whose personality is not mixed with corrupt practices or criminal activities, poor educational qualifications, have a commendable background or having a record of making notable contributions to the society before presenting oneself as a candidate? A million dollar question which everybody raises during election time but none has a convincing answer. For a successful Democracy and a robust Republic, quality of candidates representing citizens in legislatures and parliament or any other elected body is of prime importance for the simple fact most of the problems faced by public is because of non-performance or irresponsible way of managing societal issues by these men who are sitting at the helm of affairs. Apparently, a huge amount of public money is spent on conducting elections, both by the government and the contesting candidates and their supporters at the cost of good governance.
It is interesting to note here that a corrupt and inefficient elected member turns out to be great advantage to a corrupt and unscrupulous “babu” sitting in the government office, which however a bigger issue to be looked into.
And, every time we face an election, we say to ourselves: “I want to vote a right candidate this time.” But end up in great disappointment when we have little choice to take a decision. Again, a similar situation is prevailing in the current elections to the Karnataka legislative assembly where Belagavi stands no exception. Look at the quality of as many as 40 candidates in the fray in the three pockets of Belagavi North-15, Belagavi South-13 and Belagavi Rural-12. The choice is apparently not wide if one wants to pick a right candidate. The choice is limited where the poor voter has only choice to choose the lesser evil if not the “right” candidate.
As AAB sat down, spending a few couple of hours to evaluate the quality of the contests in these assembly segments, the final results were greatly disappointing. When first looked into their affidavits (filed along with nomination papers before the Election Commission), Congress candidate Laxmi R. Hebbalkar (Belagavi Rural) and JD(S) candidate Ashfaq Ahmed Madaki’s educational qualifications were found to be highest with a Master’s degree in Political Science and Business Management, respectively while those of former mayor Sambhaji Patil (sitting MLA from Belagavi South but contesting again as Independent from Belagavi North this time) and Md.Rasul Bepari (both Belagavi North) were least – 5th Standard. Five others hold bachelors degree, which included Anil Benke of BJP (Belagavi North) with LLB. Rest are Diploma holders, ITI, SSLC and below SSLC and school/college dropouts.
|SI No||Name of Candidate||Party Affiliation||Age||Education||Assets||Cases|
|1||ANIL BENAKE||Bharatiya Janata Party||53||LLB||5 Crore+||0|
|2||ASHFAQ AHMED MADAKI||Janata Dal (Secular)||40||MBA||13.7 Lakhs||0|
|3||FAIROZ SAITH||Indian National Congress||66||12th||41 Crore +||0|
|4||RAHIM DODDAMANI||Nationlist Congress Party||43||BA||13 Lakhs||0|
|5||AHMAR GOVE||All India Mahila Empowerment Party||33||SSLC||10 Thousand||3|
|6||FAKARUSAB NADAF||Aam Admi Party||48||SSLC||4Lakhs||0|
|7||GANESH SINGANNAVAR||Republican Party of India (A)||42||BA||1 Crore+||0|
|8||KURSHIDABANU NADAF||Ambedkar Samaj Party||48||SSLC||3.68 lakhs||0|
|9||MOHAMMEDRASUL BEPARI||Namma Congress||38||5tt STD||3 Lakhs||0|
|10||SANTOSHKUMAR K||Bharatiya Bahujan Kranti Dal||31||BA||15 Lakhs||0|
|11||SUVARNA DODAMANI||Samanya Janata Party (Loktantrik)||42||9th STD||48 Lakhs||0|
|12||BALASAHEB KAKATKAR||Independent||60||B.Com Part 2||1 Crore||0|
|13||MAGDUM ISMAILMAGDUM||Independent||57||SSLC||25 Lakhs||1|
|14||SAMBHAJI PATIL||Independent||67||5th STD||14 Crores||3|
|15||SANTOSH BAVADEKAR||Independent||38||Bcom||2 Lakhs||1|
|1||ABHAYAKUMAR PATIL||BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY||48||ITI, SSLC||9 Crore +||3|
|2||CHANGADEV MANOHAR KUGAJI||JANATA DAL (SECULAR)||43||SSLC||3 Crore||0|
|3||M. D. LAKSHMINARAYAN||INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS||62||SSLC||6 Crore+||0|
|4||MAHANTESH RANAGATTIMATH||ALL INDIA MAHILA EMPOWERMENT PARTY||47||SSLC||2 lakhs||0|
|5||SADANAND RAMACHANDRA METRI||AAM ADMI PARTY||29||SSLC||4.7 Lakhs||0|
|6||SNEHA CHODANKAR||AMBEDKAR SAMAJ PARTY||50||9th STD||7 Lakhs||0|
|7||ANITA SHANKAR DODAMANI||INDEPENDENT||33||8th STD||2 Lakhs||0|
|8||KIRAN SAYANAK||INDEPENDENT||55||SSLC||1 Crore+||1|
|9||N. S. SHANKARACHARYA||INDEPENDENT||58||BA||5 Crore +||0|
|10||PRAKASH MARAGALE||INDEPENDENT||62||SSLC||2 Crore+||4|
|11||SUJIT MULGUND||INDEPENDENT||44||Diploma||1 Crore||2|
|12||VARDHMAN DEVENDRA GANGAI||INDEPENDENT||36||SSLC||1.3 Crores||0|
|13||VINAYAK JADHAV||INDEPENDENT||44||SSLC||33 Lakhs||0|
|1||Laxmi Hebbalkar||Indian National Congress||48||MA||27 Crore+||3|
|2||Shivanagoud Patil||Janata Dal (S)||53||PUC||3 Crore+||0|
|3||Sanjay Patil||Bharatiya Janata Party||49||Diploma||10 Crore+||4|
|4||Anwar Jamadar||All India Mahila Empowerment Party||33||7th STD||63 Thousand||1|
|5||Sadanand Bhatkande||Rashtriya Samaj Party||44||SSLC||1.4 Lakhs||0|
|6||Manohar Kinekar||Independent||63||Bsc||1 Crore+||4|
|7||Mohammadrafiq Mulla||Independent||50||SSLC||2.53 Lakhs||0|
|8||Mohan More||Independent||37||SSLC||1.5 Crore||0|
|9||Mohan Belgundakar||Independent||56||SSLC||1.28 Crore +||3|
|10||Yallappa Rajanesh||Independent||65||Bsc||1 Crore+||0|
|11||Laxman Bommannavar||Independent||45||SSLC||22 Lakhs||0|
|12||Satish Gudagenatti||Independent||34||7th STD||10 Lakhs||0|
Interestingly, their poor educational standards have not been a deterrent in carving out fortunes in their chose profession/business and political careers, if their assets are any indication. Sixty six years old and two-time Congress candidate Feroz N. Sait, who is contesting again from Belagavi North this time and has education up to just 10+2, declared his assets worth more than Rs.17 crore. Ms.Hebbalkar’s assets are at par with him. Sambhaji Patil’s assets are worth Rs.14 crore; former two-time MLA Abhay Kumar Patil (Belagavi South) – Rs.9 crore; Sanjay B. Patil of BJP, a diploma holder contesting from Belagavi Rural has assets worth Rs.10 crore. Political powers have come handy for them to achieve meteoric richness. Ahmar Gove (33 years age) contesting as All India Mahila Empowerment Party’s candidate in Belagavi North, is SSLC with declared assets worth only Rs.10,000 – poorest candidate in these pockets.
For details of individual candidates, see Table. Also, see public reactions on quality of the candidates on this website to know the impressions about the candidates in the eyes.
What is most interesting, again in this election is the fact that the voters need not have any confusion in deciding to cast their vote for the fact there are same old faces and people are aware of their background. Even the parties which have fielded them again have ignored their do’s and don’ts, alleged corrupt practices and poor or less than expected performances. For political parties, being in power is of paramount importance and therefore, chose candidates on their “winnability”, once again compromising and exhibiting double standards on their concerns over deteriorating quality of candidatures in elections, for which voters are equally responsible. Not that the sitting MLAs have not done anything good for the respective constituencies, but there are big questions on their don’ts even while drawing some degree of satisfaction from their certain do’s leading to some notable improvements in basic amenities and infrastructure facilities.
|Belagavi Candidates Age|
|Below 30||30-40||40-50||50-60||Above 60|
|5th to 9th STD||SSLC||PUC/ Diploma||Bachelors Degree||Masters Degree|
Hence, given the fact that the electorates is in the know of who’s who in these elections, precisely Belagavi North, Belagavi South and Belagavi Rural, the choice before them is apparently limited – they have no option to choose an ideal candidate but from the available – the lesser evil or the bad among the worst. Expecting an ideal candidate in the kind of polity we have today puts the voters in a melancholy of sorts. Ironically, if one finds fault with the quality of the candidates in elections, the resultant questions on the quality of voters cannot be ignored.