Big money and big corruption could destabilise governance and  Weaken pro-poor programmes

Rich-poor divide deepens. Poverty persists. India has problems. Why hide them, why neglect them! A democracy like India is susceptible to crises!

A confident India on the global stage, asks a news headline in the London-Financial Times. This could be a left-handed compliment. Yes, now a global scenario makes Britain look like a tiny spot!  Yes, India is a  big demoracy, unlike in China where the Shangai Daily, as we scan its pages daily,  reports lot of news but not politics, in India we have so many issues, big and small, that make for news headlines.

It could be Ayodhya verdict, or Jammu and Kashmir or Commonwealth Games or the tourts of Rahul Gandhi or any other thing. But the larger issues, the larger picture often gets lost in this daily noisy buzz and so we have to see what is India’s growth story, the success story and also the failures, the harder part of the reality.

First, the Reliance Industries, RIL, India’s biggest business success story, is going strong. While Bill Gates tops the world’s richest man list, there is Mukesh Ambani who remains India’s richest man, richest corporate face of India. As per the latest report it looks like RIL becoming the great mystery as far as its wealth details are concerned.RIL has something like a nearly one hundred subsidiaries, 94 of its 96 units reporting to the BSE and at the same time it retains so much of unaccounted details, wealth in its kitty and RIL’s reported turnover, is 2, 00,400 crores! RIL’s reach in a democracy like ours where other parts of the society and polity are so weak the role of big money and big corruption in politics can only be imagined.
In our party politics, democratic governance there is no elections as we know them.
Only arbitrary exercise of power by individuals.

The legitimacy of the election process is getting weakened every day.
Can we say Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh are democrats?
There are serious issues here.

So too the issues of getting implemented the basic programmes, pro-poor programmes.
And now Sonia Gandhi’s recent election and also the role of Rahul Gandhi in the emerging scheme of things.

The major party, the Congress has just now elected Sonia Gandhi  for the fourth  time  straightaway and there is no party elections at any other levels, not at the state levels and nor at the district levels. The AICC and CWC are all phantom bodies; one doesn’t know who gets elected for what reasons.

Ironically, the Opposition party, BJP is a more democratically constituted party. There are discussions and we know their internal pulls and pressures. Not in the Congress party.
Things have come to such a pass that the Prime Minister, again a nominated person and who in his current term finds things going difficult for him and he calls a press conference, select editors to his residence and gives an interview to the country.

Things are okey for him and he is not retiring and his Cabinet is much better than those of Pandit Nehru and Indira Gandhi!

At the same time, his is a democratically constituted Cabinet where ministers can talk as they like and he has no control over them. And see what are all happening. The environment minister, after years of staying mum and after so much progress has been made in the Vedanta aluminum refinery, the company as a group has invested so far something like Rs.60,000 crores in Orissa state and one fine day comes the new young and smart Jairamn Ramesh and with a report by a retired bureaucrat  who is close to Mrs.Gandhi and Ramesh curtails the Vedanata project.

A project for which the Orissa chief Minister meets the Prime Minister and seeks his support and the PM says yes and yet the project is curtailed. Immediately, the very next day Rahul Gandhi makes dashing plane  trip, helicopter etc and appears before the local tribal people and says he is the soldier for the adivasis!

Mr.Rahul Gandhi is not at large, he is here and everywhere and he speaks on all sorts of things and what Rahul Gandhi speaks and does and what his mother has done by way of offering herself for a post without anyone daring to contest, have now invited criticism  in the media. The Deccan Herald of Bangalore has written more than once in quick succession.
In one edit the newspaper calls into question the election of Sonia Gandhi as the Congress President. In another editorial, the same newspaper calls into question Rahul’s superficial remarks on a range of things, including on such an issue like the Vedanta project.

You see these are all big projects, Vedanata or inter-state river links or big dams etc.
Rahul is not a youngster anymore. He is 41 and almost a  middle age adult. He is well-educated and well-informed. He meets big leaders, he has visited all the major countries and met their leaders and so he must be fairly well balanced and his views must have lots of weight with the list

But what he says, notes the edit, are not substantial ideas.
Writes the edit in the Deccan Herald entitled as “Little substance”:Rahul Gandhi in his one man-mass contact programme over three years has travelled light, talking hope and resurrection  and has to his credit seen the party revive in pockets where it was considered lost. But there is a contradiction in the mobilisation and the restructuring plan for the Youth Congress that he presides over. The organisational democracy he wants in the party stops at his door steps. Elections at lower levels are good but will the process work its way into the  top and decide who heads the party? In the sycophantic culture that prevails that is impossibility. The number of state units that ask Sonia Gandhi to nominate the PCC heads points to the contrary.

Rahul is also the Prime Ministerial candidate.
But the world still doesn’t know what he stands for. How he would deal with the major issues.

In this respect, Rahul Gandhi is always “evasive”, questions are shifted, vague a very general in nature, leaving t  rails of doubt.

Charisma without context and substance is no strength for democracy.
There is an idea-deficit in the man, concludes the edit.

Also, there are a series of contradictions.
First, the Prime Minister seems very shaky recently. There is a talk in Delhi circles about a replacement. Who would replace the PM in the interism?
Pranab Mukerjee? No one dares to pronounce his name. Why?

Nor Sonia Gandhi seems to have much choice, given the configuration of the Cabinet.
It can’t be P.Chidambaram, though a favourite of Sonia, she might face resistance from  many, from DigVijay Singh and other seniors in the party. PC is not a face who could connect with the Hindi belt.

Even in the South he is seen as a lightweight. There are the Opposition parties, the Hindi belt and also the DMK in TN where there could be other developments. The point is that India democracy is becoming weak everyday, or it is being reduced to be a much fractured feature of our polity.

A great pity. Sonia Gandhi and also Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have great responsibility. They have just looked after their own self-interests so far, it seems.
When we have to effect a transition, with or without Rahul Gandhi stepping  into the shoes of Singh, there must be some protocol and precedents.

The parliamentary party of the Congress must meet and formally elect a leader. Who then must become the prime Ministerial candidates. One is not sure whether Sonia Gandhi has any thought about these major transitions. If she doesnt, then, it is a sure danger.

She should study the experience of the 1968 split, the 1975 Emergency, the years without a Nehru-Gandhi name at the helm and the V.P.Singh and Narasimha Rao regimes. Lately, the corporate lobbies are becoming very powerful with so much at stake for them. The role of big money in the Congress politics also can’t be discounted. Unless she adheres some best practices, the Indian polity might deteriorate if not disintegrate!

There are the pressures from the corporate  lobbies. We have seen recent corruption charges involving big money and big corporate lobbies. How can you say the Congress party too can withstand such pressures.These are some of  the issues that would agitate the public minds for long.

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