In India, a registered voter in any constituency, above 25 can contest the Lok Sabha election, usually held every five years. One can contest the election from any constituency in the country, except the autonomous districts of Assam, Lakshadweep and Sikkim.

Once elected, the Member of Parliament is expected to represent the views and aspirations of the people of their constituency in Parliament, apart from performing their other duties.

The question arises: is it fair for a candidate to run for election in a constituency with which he or she has little connection? Many candidates may find it easy to win with strong party support, but this can lead to a disconnect between the leader and the constituency. This issue is compounded when the elected representative doesn’t speak the local language, hindering regular interaction with constituents. In rural areas, MPs and MLAs are often seen as royalty, and some politicians exploit this perception. But that shouldn’t be the case. MPs and MLAs must be accessible for people to let them know their grievances. Language plays an important role here, as communication via translation often confuses and can even lead to misunderstandings.

While it’s unreasonable to restrict candidates based on their residency in a constituency, there’s a pressing need for MPs who speak the language of their constituents and understand their challenges.

Old habits die hard for certain voters. They vote for political parties no matter who the candidate is. In many cases, this is borne out of the voters’ trust in the party. In those situations, the onus is on political parties too, to choose a candidate who understands their people and can successfully represent their needs in Parliament.

Is that too much to ask?