Who is pro-poor: BJP or the Congress?

bjpcongPrime Minister Mr.Modi, after his very path-breaking 10-day, three nation tour to Europe and Canada has come to find himself fighting a battle of sorts, this time; it is all about the, public perceptions of his government. All his strenuous efforts so far, from the day he took charge of the country he is really working hard on a host of fronts to activate things, to restart the economy from where his predecessor had left, he left it in a mess, this much the public have come to realise. So, some amount of charity is called for in view of the great challenges ahead. The whole world would look to Mr.Modi’s leadership and as such we, the Indian people, cutting across the party lines, irrespective of our own reservations and scepticism, we have to give a supporting hand to what the PM is doing on many fronts.

Now, after Mr.Rahul Gandhi’s unjustifiable absence from the affairs of the state, his return might have gladdened the hearts of one section of the party, yes, the other section, mostly seniors and as such with some stake in the future of the party, Mr.Gandhi chose to address the farmers’ rally and the next day he also went to Parliament (which he is known to neglect to the chagrin of the party veterans) and there he made an impressive speech, we have to concede. Fine! Mr.Gandhi you did a good job, we admit.
But then what you wanted to achieve?

You wanted to show that the Congress party did well in the farm sector and the BJP doesn’t measure up to its promise? Is this what you wanted to convey?

Even if we concede that much, there still remains your credibility gap. Yes, in the interest of the country’s long term good, why, even in the long and short term interest of the farmers in whose name only we are promoting this magazine, we have to say things and invite the views of thousands and lakhs of farmer-readers and visitors to our largest agri website (www.agricultureinformation.com) we won’t be truthful to our commitment.

We know well and we are sure our readers would also agree with us that agriculture is the very backbone of the country.

It is a vast field of concern for everyone and only in India, of all the countries of the world that still more than 50 per cent of people are still engaged in agriculture for their livelihood.

Poverty is still a big challenge to our planners and we are sure that Mr.Modi, more than anyone else, knows this very well.

And to remove and reduce poverty is no joke. It is also a fact that other parties, specially  the Left parties, more so the parties left-aligned and also from states like W.Bengal and Kerala where the left parties, the Communist parties had been in power had remained backward in the sense there is not much modern day industrial development, no new, new generation big industries and manufacturing.

The Communists have a mindset of anti-capitalist, anti-big industry focus. More workers’ tilted claims like industrial workers and kisan, farm workers claims for higher wages. In a strict sense of the term, the Left-oriented parties are anti- urban and pro-rural rhetoric.

Even now, under Trinamul what do we see in Bengal?

Who can take Mamata Banerjee after her track record on industrialisation in Bengal countryside? The Bengal rural hinterland is trapped in a medieval dark ages. People really would contrast Bengal and Gujarat when it comes to industrialisation or even developments on a whole host of fronts, from education, health and other infrastructure, rural electrification. Tata’s car factory fiasco sums up what Mamata Banerjee can do and can’t do.

The future won’t welcome another Mamata Banerjee medicine!

The same might apply to the Bengal Left-front politics. Mr.Sitaram Yechury is a fine person. But that is all. What a CPI (M), however he could rejuvenate the party, can do in this time of globalisation when the global capitalism, a favorite phrase of our comrades, itself is in a sort of decline or in a not growth cycle.
It is a big issue. Not easily amenable to rhetoric-wielding platform orators, politicians.

Economics is a serious business, right?

There is no big industrial investments. So too even in Kerala where there is a tradition of Communist protests against every other factory!

Of course, it is a complicated and complex issue. The issue of economic development. It had fallen to the lot of Mr.Modi to come out with a new set of rhetoric to defuse the standard attacks from Opposition parties.

Mr.Modi can’t be accused of any right-wing conspiracy. He has to face up to the grim reality of restarting the economy. Certainly, Mr.Rahul Gandhi ‘s charge that Modi is trying to take away poor farmers’ lands and gives away to rich corporate houses, it is not a “pay-off” as Mr.Gandhi has termed is wrong.

Mr.Gandhi has some serious issues himself to contend with. First he must get rid of his shoulder the albatrosses of many kinds. Manmohan Singh is now a great liability to the party. So too his creations, G-2, coal scam that too need to be taken off from public mind. He has his hands full with other issues too.

The Land Acquisition Act is landmark legislation and it is everyone’s view that the Indian Parliament must be able to enact it through mutually agreeable way. That is the essence of democracy. Also, Parliament must not be disrupted purposely to block the passage of the Bill and the country would now see how the Congress conducts itself in the Rajya Sabha.

There is a vast consensus on some of the basic features of the Bill. Land for many development needs, roads, railways, airports and irrigation projects are essential. So too in many instances land for new projects like big steel projects, coal mining and many other such criti8cal issues.

We have to create a favourable investment climate for the foreign investors. Of course, Mr.Modi had urged his MPs and party men to become more active and stand upright and see people in their eyes and tell what the government has done and intends to do more.

Yet, as Mr.Modi would realise and he also looked defensive, as the media put it, because in this country there is a tradition of left-wing tilt to all parties. So too the Janata Parivar and the newly elected CPI (M) general secretary Mr.Sitaram Yechuri  has also talked in some assertive manner.

The media is not also very friendly, it is rather diffident but not forthcoming in support of the BJP government which talks, in the words of Mr.Modi, more about “rashtraniti”, not as much about” Rajniti”.

The point here to be emphasised is that India needs a new land acquisition law. We need land for development.

Also, it is pertinent to point out that no economic development can come about without big investments and also if we can so put it, without private capitalism playing a pro-active and confident role.
But we want a “responsible capitalism”, not “crony capitalism”.

May be the future of the debate might revolve around how the government explains its position and how it is able to swing the public opinion and public perception to its side.

Photo Courtesy : www.dailymail.co.uk

 

Notified hardly 48 hours as the Supreme Court takes up hearing the batch of petitions challenging the Act!
Confrontation or conciliation ahead?

NJACThe Modi regime is surely doing things about the independence of judiciary in unusual ways.

Much more explicit language might not be appropriate for this journal!

There is a batch of petitions challenging this NJAC which seeks to replace the existing collegiums system that appoints judges by judges themselves. One advantage of the existing system is that gives complete freedom to the judiciary. Why the government now wants to replace this system?

One reason seems to be that the judiciary doesn’t seem to give any freedoms to the executive to speed up development projects like speedy clearance of environmental and first clearance of big infrastructure projects etc.

Of course, the notorious judicial delays   are common place. Once you approach the court there are no way you can get an end to it?

This judicial delay has become a scandal and invites public ire. Yet, the real reason behind the government move is to have its own men and women as judges!
We have had the bad memories of Indira Gandhi’s legacy.

Also, a series of judgements have come to give certain solidity to the Constitution which has basic structure which can’t be touched by parliament.
Mr.Modi, in his brief stint as PM has also seen how his moves and actions have been stalled by the higher courts. His attack on the “5-star activists, a reference to Teesta Setalvad and also Priya Pillai of the Green Peace, whose  cases had been upheld by the High Courts and as such Mr.Modi feels his writ does run freely.
Now, many legal luminaries are of the view that the NJAC might not stand the test of the Supreme Court scrutiny as it directly attacks of independence of the judiciary.

Mr.Modi also didn’t make his case fool-proof for he is using his language not in a restrained way and he attends the conference of the Chief Justices of the High Courts and Supreme Court and asks them face to face as to why five-star activists are taking the government for a ride. The tone of his extempore speech says so much.

So, there is unease in the government and legal circles. Unfortunately in India, in New Delhi in particular there is a big crowd of very clever lawyers who are always crowding the corridors of the successful political party that captures power and you can see always a bunch of high-fee lawyers lapping up high-profile Cabinet ministers’ posts.

Under Sonia Gandhi, this phenomenon reached ridiculous limits. A whole lot got these political offices and once the party lost where did these high-earning lawyers ended up? Straight right into the Supreme Court lawyers wearing their black gowns! It created another scandal. That is the Congress party ended up with no one to work for the party! The party offices were found to be suddenly deserted.

Yes, there is a scandal about corruption and influence in the higher judiciary. There are about 100 tribunals as the PM himself noted and there is a big drain of public money on these tribunals, once set up they perpetuate themselves.

So, there is a need to reform the judiciary. But not the PM’s way. The Supreme Court for its part, soon after the CJs conference, after the Pm made his controversial remarks, didnt not stay the NJAC), as people expected nor the government notified the Act. Testing the waters? There are many ways in which the government could curb the owners of the judiciary, one is of course funding the judiciary, and another is for the courts to delay judgements.

There is a gray area here and much is being done, as in the past, by moving cautiously step by step!

Let us see how the issues resolve it. Will there be a prolonged fight or will there be wisdom and mutual understanding to keep the judicial independence untainted?

Only time can tell.

Churnings in the Indian political parties
Congress, Janata parivar and the AAP
Splits, imminent splits and also survival unity efforts!
Janata Parivar merges into one party!
Yes, it is a positive change for more open society
Democratic Socialism can be restored!
But great efforts in resolving contradictions and fighting the personal ego of leaders are critical!
Also, responsible Capitalism should be one critical objective!
Speedy economic growth and social justice could get a boost!

Mulayam Singh Yadav at luncheon meeting with opp leadersThe six parties, all former allies in one form or other, which worked as the Janata party and government under Morarji Desai and then split into various factions and separate parties in due course, mostly in UP and Bihar as Samajwadi party under Mulayam Singh Yadav and under Nitish Kumar as the JD (U) and under Lalu Prasad Yadav as RJD and down South In Karnataka under former Prime Minister Deve Gowda, as JD(S) have all now come together.

This is a very good development in the Indian political scene. The Indian political scenario is now in some basic confusion. The Congress is in total disarray as we write the party heir Rahul Gandhi, 44, is not in the scene for the past 56 days! He might pop up at any time. Not even his mother knows! Not to speak of other senior leaders.

As on date at least some six of them, Captain Amarinder Singh, the Deputy Leader at the Lower House, Lok Sabha, has called for Sonia Gandhi to continue in the post of Congress chief. She has already been there for the last 17 years. How long she can continue?

The 130 year old grand party has not taken its party Constitution seriously. This is the case since the days of Indira Gandhi. Indira Gandhi split the party into two.
Now, it looks Sonia Gandhi’s dithering, popor lady, she doesn’t know which way to turn or what way forward is there for her to step down and hand over power to someone who is willing to take over!

So, the major party like Congress is itself is a crisis of identity. The other parties are no better. The Left, the CPI (M), the pure-bred Marxists, are always known for their ideological confusions and contradictions. As we write the party is in session in Andhra Pradesh in its 25th party Congress and the party is also in a sort of internal power struggle! It has openly admitted it is not any more in formulating any “alternative politics”, always with the Congress as its obsession! So, what is left?

It is the AAP, which in its two year avatar is already split. Now, the BJP?

Is it fine, in fine fettle?

Yes and no! Mr.Narendra Modi is of course in a triumphal procession of sorts, abroad at the moment. Inside, the country, after almost one year in office, there are murmurs and apprehensions, from within the party and from outside!
Why? He hadn’t moved forward as he promised and delivered on the ground.
So, the first party to be rattled by the unification of the Janata Parivar which immediately could emerge as the principal challenger of the BJP in Bihar where an election to  the Assembly is due.

Even otherwise, the united Parivar will have its strength to go up to 30 MPs in the Rajya Sabha, the third largest party there.

The Congress is now in majority. That is why the BJP is not able to pass through the Rajya Sabha on its land acquisition bill. Also, the Congress, in particular, Sonia Gandhi is claiming some credit for leading a team, some 100 MPs, one evening to the President’s House from parliament.

You see, politics is half a fantasy and only half the truth, the reality.
Now, what chances for the Janata Parivar?

Parivar has a long history. Unfortunately, this history or its pedigree was not traced by any speaker at the inaugural session. The Janata ideology was basically a democratic Socialist heritage. One can go back as far as one wishes.

The Congress party itself has this democratic, Socialist and even a bit of traditional Indian society values. Let us say like the British Conservative Party.
Now, under Gandhi it evolved. Unfortunately, Gandhi was called as Mahatma and this helped and also hindered to take a historical and ideological analysis of the legacy of the Congress.

We have to undertake this step, either as old fashioned Congress men or even as the old fashioned Nehruite Socialists. Because as it has now come out with the Bose-Nehru government surveillance controversy, we have to go back to the Gandhi-Bose controversy phase when Bose wanted a secular, united India and Gandhi, before he came to Indian in 1914, Gandhi was in some ways equivivocal about the long-term vision for India. Between 1905 and 1911, when the Bengal was divided and after it was united in 1911, the Swadeshi movement was played out and from then on with Gandhi in the picture, the through process of the Congress underwent many changes.

Gandhi was unclear, say observers, whether Indian was willing to get Dominion Status and freedom.

Or, full freedom?

Bose was in one sense the original secularist, didn’t support the communal politics and also other events that brought Indian close to 1945 partition edge.
So, the point here is Nehru Socialist stance was only one such stance. There was Bose stance too.

Anyway, the National Planning Committee was the stamp of Bose Socialism.
Then came other events. One was the Congress ideology. The Congress Socialists under Jaya Prakash Narayan.

JP is the godfather of the Janata Parivar which fought the 1975 Emergency.
So, there is a strong anti-Congress streak to the Janata Parivar ideology.

My point here is the new avatar must clearly formulate its vision, its total ideological vision for the new entity to be taken seriously by its supporters and also no less by its enemies, chiefly, the resurgent BJP under Modi-Shah combine.
The Parivar has to make a survey of what are the priorities? What are the new dangers under the Modi regime?

Democracy itself is in danger of being suffocated by various intrusions.
There is no protection for freedom of thought, freedoms of expression, freedom of the media, both print and electronic. Civil society feels threatened.
We have to highlight the victories won already in the Teesta Setalvad and also Priya Pillai where the country have intervened.

Yet, there is no repute for the citizens. RTA is weakened. Judiciary is now threatened by the NJAA which is also challenged by the civil society.
There is the PMO authoritarianism.

Many ministries are non-performing. Anyway, the Parivar seniors must invite the intellectuals and civil society brains to come out with a credible political ideology for the new entity. Then only the arithmetic will make sense. The chemistry must be correctly got right.

Of course, if I may say so, all the senior leaders must declare they might not seek direct power. They would work for the next generation to define the priorities. Jobs, aspirations, equal and equitable society, rights of the minorities, secularism and the other deprived classes.

Once, the Parivar is put on a solid foundation of new and innovative ideas and ideals and strategies, and then it is shot worth taken seriously by the rest of the society. Good luck for the new entity. Long live Indian democratic socialist ideology.

Centre-Right or Centre-Left? There are various strands possible here.

We can draw parallels from the older democracies from Europe.

New technologies, give new tools for transparency and also a new competitive edge to Mr.Modi’s own big money, new technology pushes.

Money matters but then also new visions and new aspirational thrust also make sense. See the AAP victory in such a short time span.

There is a lesson for the Janata Parivar in AAP’s triumphs.