Is there a case for a federal or third front?
2014 elections seem to be the only talking point among the politicians and the political parties these days, it seems.
Politics in India is a hot topic as the country is changing fast in socioeconomic terms. The economic growth is a hot topic too.
In fact, it is politics that is a very dominant force. The political scenario is much more hotter, as politics is now intrinsically mixed with other forces, in making quick wealth and grabbing power, raw power and that in turn gives rise to all the problems of high corruption in high places.
When we say high places we mean both the political power centres as much as the economic power centres, that is the corporate headquarters.
Today, everybody knows that politics can give to oneself, be it an aspirant or a real power seeker.So, we see today, politics is full of strife, discomfort and also much unethical practices, be it the use (or misuse) of power, instruments of power, be it the CBI or other coercive instruments.
Today, we see the rapid decline in what is called politics that means one can adopt any means to seek or grab power and retain it. The recent fall in the rupee vs. the dollar did raise serious concerns, ironically not among the ruling classes!
Not even the experts, from the PM downwards, neither the Planning Commission brains Mr.Ahluwalia or the FM, the otherwise much-talking Mr.P.Chidambaram came forward to calm the tempers or cool the market sentiments.
This is a very strange country where the supposed experts are supposed to talk and explain things to the people. But none of the evading lights came out and did their job.
But there was the one exception.The highly articulate and much highly rated India’s Economic Adviser Mr.Raghuram Rajan was the one who came on the TV channel (NDTV) and explained the situation in a much more responsible manner.
What Mr.Rajan explained, to put it in very simple and popular language is that it is often good politics to go for bad economics! Or, good economics often is bad politics!
What does it mean?
The government has a big what is called “current account deficit-cad),we import more and also spend more on subsidies, from food subsidies to oil subsidies and fertilisers etc and that takes a good deal of funds and the government over-spends and continues to overspend without accompanying counter measures to boost investments and growth in critical sectors.
To explain further, the governance that is the management of the economy is not that good. One, economic management. Two, the very over-all governance system. Three, as a result of poor governance, we see the rise in the various corruption scams!
Even after so many scams that now reached the very doors of the PMO, we see a sort of foolish brazenness on the part of the party and the government.There was this recent Cabinet reshuffle.This is a tired phrase, the cabinet reshuffle.
Under Sonia-Singh dispensation the selection and dropping of ministers has given rise of some very comical scenes.Why change the railways portfolio within 33 days of one person occupying it?
Is it a very calculated decision? What is the calculation? Is Mr.C.P.Joshi, the person now changed, not the right and competent person?
And alas! He was also entrusted the national highways and roads portfolio.Perhaps the most important portfolio for economic growth is these two portfolios. And you (or we) are playing with it!
The Indian railways are perhaps the most-backward rail line in the world! We have played politics with this portfolio beyond any tolerance! Even now, under a new minister, this heavy portfolio where new technologies all over the major countries are transforming modern railways with high-speed trains etc really call for a real technocrat sort of person, one like E.Sreedharan, to get down to serious planning and execution of some very radical changes.
In the age of Internet, there is very chance India can set an example, if not really overtake other contenders like Japan and China(we have written on the meglav trains in these countries elsewhere) and also France where the TGV is a legend for a long time.
Why not even one rail minister so far had not talked about all these things.You appoint a favoured person and he within a few months goes out on corruption charges! Please let readers decide when we ask: does this change or changes show any wisdom or serious application of mind on the part of the top leadership?
The same goes for the roads and national highways portfolio. This is very serious charge and already we are told many times that quick decision making or the absence of it is the major hurdle for quick economic growth.
We speak with a huge sense of responsibility and with a heavy heart.There is poor judgement on the part of top leadership. Our choice of persons for a range of areas, from ambassadors to ministries to Governors to, why even to some of the dormant depts. like the arts, culture etc show our total indifference. That is why very many observers who have no axe to grind have spoken against the way the party is run and the government is run.
You see that ultimately, it is the confidence that political leadership generates that gives the economy the strength and stability. To attract and retain investments, both foreign and domestic. It matters a great deal how the leadership, especially in a democracy like India, is constituted.
Whether the leadership enjoys the peoples’ confidence and trust.Whether the leadership command a moral authority and credibility. What is public opinion? It is the perception of the last man, the common man’s wisdom. It is a vast topic. One about the genuine democracy, whether leaders look into themselves and ask: whether we are true to ourselves etc!
Anyway, now the 2014 elections. In this background of slow economy, rise in unemployment rise in prices, food prices, inflation etc comes the 2014 elections.
Here too we see that we don’t put before the people any new hope or new vision for a clean government.The CBI is continued to do a very complicated job in a more complicated way!There is no repentence, it seems!
So, we project a dynastic political culture, no ideology, no vision, no articulation for the people or for the elite or the top power centre. So, we would continue with the status quo of things?
It is here the election would decide whether the Opposition as represented by BJP or more accurate Mr.Narendra Modi or a third front/federal front. Now, Mr.Nitish Kumar has come out as a freeman and already Mamata Banerjee, Naveen Patnaik and, Chandrababu Naidu of TDP and even ADMK leader has announced their support for a federal front.
Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati are also in the reckoning. How the third front would crystalise is anybody’s guess at the moment.But one thing seems certain. There won’t be any one single party getting seats more than 200. So, there would be a coalition.
Who would make up the new coalition of 2014?
It is very important at the very beginning to think of an ideological clarity and also an agenda of reforms that the voting public become sensitive. Attacking corruption at high places must be the top agenda. The Lokpal bill must top the chart.
So too urgent political and Constitutional reforms. Already the reform proposals are pending for action.Parties reforms, funding, electoral reforms. One more sensitive reform is to make a Constitutional Amendment to make the Prime Minister always an elected member of the Lok Sabha.
I am very confident these very brief proposals would catch the imagination and yearnings of a great country India is. The outside world would also be caught up by the world’s largest democracy getting strengthened at its roots.