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l May 2004 l

The Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

l Vol 4, No 1 l


Indian Polity: Interesting times ahead

What others say..........

In the end, the voter proved everyone wrong. The pollsters got it wrong. So did the media. Of course, neither the principal winners nor the losers had the foggiest of idea as to what the ballot box held in store for them. The losers were left shell-shocked by the verdict. And the winners, naturally, ecstatic they had won beyond their wildest expectations. However we do feel sorry for the statesmanpolitician, Atal Behari Vajpayee. Here was his last chance to go down in history on a glorious, nay triumphant note. But the King Voter willed otherwise. At the end of more than half a century in active politics, Vajpayee’s career has virtually come to an end on a rather sombre note. He deserved better from the country he has served so well all through his long political career. But then it is in the very nature of a diverse and not-sodiscerning electorate to sweep away the good guys along with the bad when it is motivated by nothing loftier than anger and apathy towards the incumbent regime.

In India, almost in all general elections the vote is negative. The Governments are invariably voted out with little or no concern as to who comes to replace them. Not since 1980 has a single prime minister been returned to power. Vajpayee was the lone exception in 1999, but then he too has tasted the bitter fruits of anti-incumbency.

There is so much poverty and so high expectations from the `mai baap sarkar’ that no government is able to fulfil the heightened aspirations of the unwashed masses. The public-funded hype over Shining India seemed to have resulted in a strong backlash from the hungry and the poor for whom nothing seemed to have changed despite tremendous strides made by the country in various fields under the progressive and forward-looking Vajpayee Government. That is why the Congress Party would be well advised not to gloat over the inevitable corollary of the NDA’s defeat to tom-tom the claim that Sonia Gandhi’s prime ministerial credentials had been endorsed by the people. She may well become the prime minister with the help of the opportunistic leftists who have been a huge drag on the progressive and forward-looking policies of the Central government, but the popular mandate has still not been won by her or her party.

The point about this election is not that it has virtually catapulted a wholly inexperienced, untried and untested leader of the opposition in the prime minister’s `gaddi’ but that a Ram Naik in Mumbai and a Jagmohan in Delhi have been worsted by people who cannot hold a candle to them in their record of public service. Change in politics as in other walks of life, is inevitable. But change for the sake of change might result in huge problems.

The voter has given the thumbs up to youthful new leaders. Which given that more than half the electorate is under the age of 30 is just as well. In sharp contrast, Vajpayee and Co. looked old and tired who had seen better days. They did not appeal to the MTV age group. The Shiv Sena Supremo has a point when he said that politicians over 65 years should call it a day. Indeed, and shouldn’t that precept be first applicable to the Sena boss himself who though well past 70 continues to control his outfit in a vice-like grip.

In the BJP too the change of guard is inevitable. Vajpayee and Advani might have contested their last parliamentary election. They owe it to the party they have nursed through thick and thin for long decades to ensure a smooth succession. Someone relatively young with a clean image and a sharp intellect alone can aspire confidence in a young nation. In the coming days when the dust settles down on this election, it is clear that the leadership issue will have to be clinched by the BJP.

At the time of writing, there were enough indications that a Congress-led government would be in place in a day or two. It may be supported by the leftists from outside since they love power without accountability and responsibility. In all probability, the Mulayam Singh Yadavs and Mayawatis will be watching sullenly the proceedings from the sidelines, having forfeited their bargaining power due to the miraculously good showing of the Congress-led alliance.

Only the brave and foolhardy will guarantee longevity to a Sonia Gandhi-led government supported from outside by the treacherous leftists, but the widow of Rajiv Gandhi by occupying the highest executive office might have a thing or two to prove to her former compatriots back in Italy and her adopted nation where there are many vocal critics disputing her right to prime ministership due to her foreign origins and a belated acquisition of an Indian passport. But a more pertinent question would be whether someone with little or no administrative experience and virtually non-existent academic and intellectual wherewithal can lead this country well given its chronic problems of economic and social under-development.

Interesting times are ahead in the Indian polity. The Congress is bound to falter in government, particularly when it is crucially dependent for survival on the Marxist junkies whose right place is in the dustbin of history and not on the treasury benches of a nation seeking to become a developed nation by 2020. If it plays its cards well, the BJP might re-discover its elan as a formidable opposition both inside and outside parliament.

 l The Free Press Journal l 

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