Ministers’ competencies come for criticism!

The Bombay blasts had devastated the nation.200 dead, 700 injured in a few minutes in several places! This is too much.  But distressed the country much more is the sort of response and the sort of immediate explanations from the Government. Tavleen Singh, the veteran columnist, writing from her Bombay flat, noted the word from the PMO was not good, the midnight dash by Sonia Gandhi and Shivraj Patil had no purpose and the Home Minister’s reply to questions that the Government would do take action was “namby pamby”! She seems to have asked the Home Minister (and indirectly through him his Prime Minister and the higher-ups in Delhi) what about the cases your government had been pursuing since 1993, in a similar blast in the same city.

She had a point. The very same point was made by several others, the TV channels asked the same question and the channels were flooded with the same question! There were so much interactive sessions the Channels had and we saw everyone, from the more senior leaders and experts to others the same question echoed. The participants also raised the same question. So, it won’t be an exaggeration to say the government in Delhi had become very insensitive and very lethargic and to say the least the government has no new ideas to deal with the rise of terrorism in the country.

The PM’s response also came for criticism. He of course came and before that it seems he asked the Home Minister to read out a statement on his behalf and this was found reflecting on the PM’s own way of doing things, even in such extreme situations. Much more disturbing is about what the PM actually spoke after two days, the address was too brief. It is reported: “So, it was for the first time that a PM made such a brief speech to the nation although the message was loud and clear”. The PM’s voice was not so audible than what one expected on such an occasion and the PM’s visage showed no emotion or reflected any engagement with the mood!

It is not always easy to forget and forgive with a government’s so many deficiencies. The PM’s visit to Vidarbha was also a let-down. Neither the package was revolutionary, not a penny was handed over to the grief-stricken families. There is so much to say about the failure of the Agri Ministry on the agri front. The sacking of the food secretary is okey, as far as things go. But everyone knows in Delhi, the wrangling in the ranks of senior, retired bureaucrats in the PMO are playing so much favourtism.

So, the extension to the Cabinet Secretary is ironical when you sack a poor IAS official for the failure of your major agricultural policies and policy implementation. And in all these developments, the poor pay dearly, the farmer’s scenario is depressing, not encouraging. The Finance Minister’s promises of adequate farm credit are only a promise still. Not only are the priority sector lending targets violated by the banks, the very serious banking sector, that of the co-operative banks, the co-operative farm credit system is as good as dead! A determined Finance Minister with vision would realise that without reviving the co-operative banking sector, there is no future for farming in the country. The implementation of the Vaidyanathan Committee recommendations needs Centre’s intervention, to put the blame on the errant States is no political wisdom.

The PSU banks don’t come to the rescue of the government, the FM’s promises on farm credit is not likely to be met. One South-based  PSU bank ,for instance, insists that for farm entrepreneurs, the entrepreneurs have to give security not only the lands, but also some other  (may be urban)property also. This is the mindset of our country. There is no agriculture strategy with the name with the UPA government. Wheat production targets had been revised lower progressively, this time for the fifth time! So, what is there for this Government to talks of any credible farm development strategy? The wheat production advance estimates had been lowered for the fourth time in a year, 2004-06, at from 73.06 mt now to 69.45 mt. Even our agriculture intelligence gathering lacks credibility. Such a lethargical administration only exposes the Government to more cynicism.

May be the PM is constrained or tired. But then he seems to be enjoying the powers of the Prime Minister’s Office and he seems to be willing to go on with all the non-performance tag that is sticking to his office. The BJP leaders have come out with the demand for reenactment of the Pota. There is some point. Once the government is seen as weak, by the terrorists and the people, then all sorts of adventurous elements might join in. So, the next election might be fought on the plank of strong vs. weak government!

If that is so, then one can imagine how the electorate might swing the next time!

There can be unanimity that India needs strong and resolute measures to arrest the deteriorating confidence of the people in their government.

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