None! None at all!
You can’t have altruism unalloyed at the grass roots democracy, can you?
Forget about it! For quite sometime!
The hold of bureaucracy is total and unbreakable!

Unfortunately, our current crop of leaders also doesn’t believe in empowerment, seriously!
Yes, this election will be as like any other election.

The other day I was viewing a very heartening programme, one on the NDTV Profit channel on the unstoppable Indians.

Who is the unstoppable Indian I saw? It is none other  never-say-die Mr.Kejriwal who runs the NGO, Parvartan. Kejriwal, as everyone knows is a winner of the Magsaysay award for using the Right for Information  Act, RTI for getting justice done to poor people.

His experience was an eye-opener. He has a fund of energy that was surprising. Anyone who runs an NGO and that too in such an out of the way field like getting official information from the deadly institution of Indian bureaucracy is sure to fall victim of incurable cynicism! But not Mr.Kejriwal. He is young and earnest and is driven by unlimited optimism.

If I were the President of India, I am sure I would have enlisted his name for a Bharat Ratna. Yes, I am digressing here a bit but such a digression is in order.

We in India don’t recognise talent, talent if it doesn’t come from the official channels! That is the trouble. See the list of the Padma awardees. They all come on predictable lines, good and loyal government service is rewarded in a routine way. So too our choice of artistes. All respectable fields are there but not from out of the way fields that are rare and likely to disappear like the great and immortal oral art traditions like, say, the Kerala-centered  Sanskrit drama, Koodyattam etc.

To search for and reward rare talents, dying arts calls for rare leadership and imagination.
Even in other fields like development, who would appreciate a young man like Mr.Kejriwal who like others in the same category, the waterman and others, are battling against the very walls of government and the bureaucracy.

After listening to his experiences I was wondering whether the President of India or the Prime Minister or Sonia Gandhi would have been watching the same programme. If they have had watched the programme, there must have been news in the next day. There was none and I assumed that I must be right in my assumptions and in my own prejudices. Assumptions and prejudices about our own leaders, the power seekers and grabbers with no shame whatever!
Mr.Kerjiwal says that in UP and other states, it is now  three years the pending time before you can get your application under the RTI act is likely to be taken up. So many applications are pending as on date. It is no fewer time lags in other states.

If any of the media houses is doing any pubic service then they must get the latest issues under the  working of the act and must publish and expose the causes and the men and women who cause such great distress to the affected community.

So, to come back to Mr.Kejriwal’s other efforts to empower people under the panchayat  raj, it looks he is fighting a losing battle surely. It is not a secret that the institutions under the panchayat raj are not working as they are envisaged. Who doesn’t know this state of affairs? Everybody knows. The PM knows and so his ministers. Surely, Mr.ManiShankar Iyer knows this only too well. But who is responsible to hold back the powers, the empowerment from the local people. It is again, the very same bureaucracy.

Who can reform the system?
Not surely, Dr.Manmohan Singh, the poor man with no powers, no vision and no powers at all.
Who knows he may go down in history as the one who put up a false facade  for five long years, a poor shadow of his master, the late P.V.Narasimha Rao, another false face. The late Prime Minister didn’t have even the courage to write a straightforward autobiography. So, we can be sure this time too our Prime Minister wont let you know what he did and what he couldn’t do, given the constrains under which he is operating as on date!

The concept of empowerment and decentralisation has taken so many avatars.
The history of the experiment is also too long.

One can quote Gandhi, Nehru and whomever you choose.
Even Mr.Kejriwal, in his TV chat quoted from Buddhist history the grass roots democracy and empowerment.

That is very fine and very soothing.

Today, we have to approach peoples’ empowerment, yes, I agree, without any cynicism whatever. That is our duty. Every one’s duty.

After all, we live in a democracy and society would be what it is.
Society would have all the pulls and pressures and various interests and ideals operate.
So, I am robust in my outlook and my optimism is unbounded.

Having said this, I like to look at empowerment in a positive way.
There are enough empirical data, enough World Bank reports, for instance, on governance.
I would like to see that the Central government takes serious interest and makes this social and grass roots democracy experiment as a high priority.

Unless the Central government and the major parties are serious or made to become serious and sensitive to this highly civilised and highly enlightened great political objective nothing much would happen in our life time.

At the states’s level I would like to see the Prime Minister to take the initiative  to impress upon the Chief Ministers to sensitise themselves on this human, humane and humanitarian issue  then also nothing much might happen.

It is a question of leadership. State level initiative is the key to the decisive move.

These aspects, the Central government initiative, state level initiative ,Mr.Kejriwal didn’t emphasis. I don’t know why.

Nor he took notice of the various other experiments, by other governments, as in Kerala and West Bengal, where the Communists made a dance and song of the decentralisation and in the end ended in making the Communist party to oppress and suppress all the initiatives and spontaneous growth of grass roots democracy.

I have also one skepticism of the enthusiasm of Mr.Kejriwal.
Yes, people’s assemblies must be regularly convened and questions asked for the failure of panchayat officials, petty officials to perform their jobs.

The olden day’s local heads of big families had some hold.
Today, these petty officials ,from the village revenue officers to others, including the village school teachers to the ayahs and anganwadi workers don’t respect the villagers. They are often party hands, the ruling party hands and they have their own corrupt deals made or to make and as such they are insensitive or be responsible to their paid duties.

So, in the end, as I also live and had lived and worked on several such projects and got disillusioned, I have to strike a realistic note, dont you approve?

So, we look at empowerment from a more altruistic manner.

Sometimes people deserve mercy. Many times they deserve what they deserve today! You cant have altruism unalloyed, all the time, can you?

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The infrastructure of development twisted and turned into crooked selfish one-person agenda
Where the development issues cry for attention

Just travel around in Tamil Nadu by road. You will notice that the roads are so old, so old world fashioned with all their zigzag returns and twists. You can’t enter and exit any of the major district towns even today, after all these expansions of national highways and the beautiful opening up of the lush countryside on either of these Western style broad and straight lanes!
You can’t enter Coimbatore, the major district town outside the Chennai city. The town along with its sister town of Tirupur, the export hub, are linked by a road whose alignment is still years old and the road accidents in this part is still routine. So too the roads that lead from the town towards the hill station of Oooty. You still drive up to the Blue Mountains through the potholed roads and the passage is narrow.

So too the roads approach to Trichy or the exit from the same city.
One can go on narrating this tale of woe.

You might wonder that after all, it is the minister from the state who is the Cabinet minister for national highways and ports and such a high profile minister must be attending to these woes. But then you will see that this minister’s track record on the national highways authority is very poor. He tried to change the chairmen of this body four times in four years; the last attempt was turned down by a fearing and reluctant Prime Minister! Such is the clout of the alliance partner!

The city of Chennai itself for an outsiders, for a visitor from outside the state, say, for one who is from Bangalore, the city of Chennai, once the oldest in the then Madras Presidency, is a city of poor infrastructure that you enter the city from Bangalore on the beautiful national ways at the end of the NH with the board warning you: End of the Toll Gate Road. You then suddenly find yourself as if you are entering into a slum dog city! Yes, the city from the Koyambedu to Amjikarai is a series of slums it seems. The roads haven’t been widened for ages, it seems. That is the feeling you get.

Yes, there are now as many over bridges in the city as elsewhere but a comparison with Bangalore would give you an idea how Chennai is having a poor urban infrastructure while Bangalore, with all its yet-to-meet demands for infrastructure, you come from a modern American city to an Indian city that is still city with its poor roadsides, dust and smoke and unpaved sideways and the lack of any green cover, in spite of so much awareness for green cover and urban landscaping.

Where is a big enough lung space in Chennai as we have in Bangalore with the beautiful 250 acre Lal Baugh and the 300 acre Cubbon Park. There are so many newly-laid parks in Bangalore while you don’t have enough greenery. We haven’t noticed during the recent many visits. The contrast stands out.

Coimbatore being our native city, we noticed the deficiencies more often.
We were not surprised when we noticed during the current electioneering in the Coimbatore constituency, the parties and the candidates were raising the issues of urban infrastructure in Coimbatore.

No wonder, in road accidents, the state comes second ,next to Maharashtra.
The local CII has come out with a list of demands and also a list of unfulfilled promises in the past. The CII document says that in the past 10 years no major urban infrastructure project has come about in the city. No over bridges, no expansion of the city roads, the roads are so clogged and congested and no major water supply projects, the pending water supply projects are pending for so many decades.

Once the city was surrounded by beautiful lakes and water bodies. All now encroached and gone for ever!

The lifeline of the city, the ancient Noyyal rive is dead and in stretches near Tirupur, also near Erode, another industrial hub with a large export industry, had totally polluted the rivers and the vast acres of  cultivable land.

You can’t enter these new export hubs and ext, thanks to years of neglect in building tiring roads or expanding the narrow roads inside the cities.

Tamil Nadu is one state which can be described as a victim that had fallen to the very peculiar politics pursued by the Dravidian parties, in particular by the ruling DMK under the vice-like grip of Mr.Karunanidhi who in his present avatar, is the Chief Minister for the fifth time and in an age when most men would have retired so gracefully. But not this Chief Minister.

The DMK politics is also very peculiar. Everything you would expect from a modern elected government is absent here. The ruling party is in a minority and yet the DMK refuses to share power with the Congress. Also, the DMK had bargained and got all the powerful Cabinet ministers’ posts in Delhi in writing before  the alliance formation!

Also, the DMK chief had so manipulated, almost through a carefully designed psychological warfare that both the Prime Minister and Mrs.Sonia Gandhi are terrified to talk to the DMK chief and they just dance to the tunes of the DMK even when it comes to very sensitive questions like Sri Lanka. The PM refuses to open his mouth and counter the very pernicious strategies the party pursues to keep its opponents on the tenterhook, always the DMK wants to be the  one-upmanship party in every issue.

So, there is  rampant corruption of massive proportions and  the governance norms are so  flouted and the socio-cultural map of the map is marked with so much social evils, from Tasmac liquor flowing under the government agency and  degeneration of governance is so steep that the police are divided into ruling party and Opposition party factions!

The ruling party is now a most powerful force, with every small or big elections are targeted in such a way that money and muscle power wins the day.

So, we see massive populist schemes like free colour TV sets, free rice to free land and now well-targeted funding of the individual voters.

The method adopted is to pay and bribe the voters beforehand and also forewarn dire consequences if the voters don’t vote as promised! The last by-election at Thirumangalam is described as the most violent, most corrupt election. This description is given by the state election commissioner himself!

So, for any intelligent observer, it doesn’t  need much expertise, that the state funds are squandered on the populist schemes that fetch votes in every election, more success of this method drives to go for more freebies and where else the revenues have gone except into such squandering.

So, it is no wonder that the states basic infrastructure is left neglected.
Who cares? That is the question no one asks. No one dares to ask.

The elite are silenced. The so-called middle class is silenced, the Tamil language chauvinism is whipped up every now and then and so the state doesn’t even remember the basic development issues. The separatist trends, through Elam Issue, Tamil in danger, Tamil protector, the state CM, such fantasies are built up through heavy state funded advertisements in the newspapers, that everyday you wake up to see the broadly smiling aged CM for your own chagrin!

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You have to build another seven new Mumbai’s by the next 12 years!

There is a new urgency and a confidence among the ministers of the Prime Minister’s team. Every minister is supposed to announce their favourite targets.

The first to come and the first to withdraw   were Veerappa Moily and Kapil Sibal. The gay rights won partially from a high court verdict and Moily quietly withdrew. The new law will now come after deliberations and getting a consensus opinion. Kapil Sibal, the Sibal the sweet, smooth and smiling, also did the same, he announced the 10th exam as an option and once voices of dissent came from the states he fell silent.

As for the other ministers, it is Pranab Mukerjee who won the day, it seems. His all-populist, all-spending, no  investment and no reforms budget first invited acclaim as on cue from the supposed corporate faces and later, slowly now ,there seems skepticism seems setting in.
After all, how can a government can budget without taxes or investment strategies.
What Mukerjee has got by way of disinvestment and FDI on which his predecessors, the growth-mania men after all  rested on their laurels.

Now, you say everything will be worked out by consulting the stake-holders.
Who are the stake-holders, the biggest and the largest, except the poor, the farmers and the mass of villagers who just can’t live on your daily wages you have promised through your rural employment schemes.

You see, the supposed wiseman, that you need some plans, institutions and the road map to put your money. You can’t just stand in the open and throw away the funds, right?
You see the major schemes announced before and see what progress we have made.
The urban renewal mission, the JNNURM.

Simply, you are not able to spend the money! What an irony!

Kamalnath, the new minister for national highways wants to build 20 km of national highways everyday. What a fantastic target! It would be a miracle if he just achieves half the target.
Likewise other big ticket schemes.

Urban mission is  the real mission in all the big vision schemes, it seems.
You have to budget for an urban expansion the scale of which is mind-boggling.
India’s urban population is projected to go up by around 100 million in the next 12 years. That means what you know?

You have to build and create urban space and urban infrastructure facilities equivalent to at least seven new Mumbais! Is this possible at all?
That is the projections anyway.

Now, the allocations under the JNNURM the funds utilisation is a dismal record. Four of the seven years has run its course. Just about a third of the central funds are utilised. For instance, AP was allotted 2014.93 crores and yet on date AP had utilised only Rs.876.56 crores.Maharashtra:Rs.5048.65 crores, utilisation Rs.2214.58 crores. And so on.
After three years when the schemes seem to end ,only 32 out of 463 projects seem to likely to be completed.

There is a separate urban development ministry and the burden of making the ministry a success rests with a host of agencies and individuals.

JNNURM was started on Dec.3,2005,for seven years. With a total planned investment of lakh crores.50 per cent of the funds is from the Centre, the states and the local bodies are to share the rest.

It is here we come up with the lack of knowledge and the vision needed to conceptualise and execute such a gigantic projects.

Under the UPA, be it I or II, there is complete lack of any imagination to lead the country on a systematic vision.

You are not leaders capable of taking your responsibilities seriously and with great sense of a mission.

You just have to visit the ministries, meet the ministers concerned, all smooth, silken-like environment, so many of the ideal heads nod everywhere you turn, you wait for more than a day in New Delhi(nobody bothers to take into the cost of living in the capital, after travelling, mostly by flight and put up on star-like hotel or guest houses)and these worthies make you take your job lightly.

Then, when the big worthy, the minister actually materialises before you, you just see all smiles and courtesies, the minister doesn’t even have the power to call the secretary or secretaries. There is a  well-understood and well-observed hierarchies within hierarchies and after the usual rounds, you return home and you have to forget to hear from the capital city!

There is(when the previous UPA was in office)bribe-giving and bribe taking ceremonies too!
If you are not a high corporate lobby man, it is small mercy if you can manage to passion the small sums quietly and come the next day to collect your signed papers!

So, what impressions you get from the Manmohan Sing II regime?

Radical change in the mindset because of the mandate? Or, the more strengthened hands of the bureaucrats? And for god’s sake, you also started giving extensions to the retired hands you have hired.

There is no fire and energy left out in the old hands.

The new government might have got the mandate of the people.

But what the mandate means unless you feel within your own inner conscience the reward came to you by the mercy of you being the humble servant of the court!

So, there is every reason to believe that most projects, be they the mega infrastructure or the small ones, all need to be driven through some well-structured institutions and there is always the PPP model, as far as we are concerned.

The local bodies, the panchayat raj and the states are not all the same.
There are good states, well-governened states and the ill-governed states.

After all, politics has become the big business, and to recall our Kamalnath, he realised that eh needs some 80 or odd very good contractors to execute his ambitious  schemes. But he finds there are only 28 such contractors and among them 12 are in fact the new MPs among them.
So Nath wonders: whether it helps the MPs to become contractors or being high profile contractors helps them to become MPs.

So, there is one more dimension to our MPs!
We have to of course identify and nurture and train and deploy high quality  contractors.
As we write the two major accidents at the Delhi Metro Railway has caused great dismay and the one contractor’s name that came up for adverse comment in the Delhi and the hyderabad, mishapes caused further dismay.

And to abolish the urban slums in the next five years?
That is another gigantic task, almost near-impossible task indeed.

One way to ease the pressure on the metros is to build and development more new cities and towns.

Yes, all great ideas are old ideas only.
We once talked of the satellite towns.

Why, even the rural housing schemes are as good as any and they cry for attention.
Every village, major and minor ones need extensions and new colonies. Rural roads are no less urgent and they too need good contractors. We see in some states the rural roads are quality-built ,in others the  quality id dismal.

When the roads and communications links are developed  half the development of rural India is achieved.

There is a great deal of new thinking on building urban infrastructure, running the urban management  councils and in a city like Bangalore many new innovative approaches were tried. The World Bank too came there and studied the urban governing councils and yes, there is the fund of knowledge and inputs from the World Bank how to go about the urban development  issues, urban transport, sanitation, waste disposal and pollution control etc.

It is all about leadership, vision and determination and motivation.

Let us hope the new ministers demonstrate their skills and show us the way forward.

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Surely, the aam aadmi government must attend to this problem as the first and foremost priority!

If we write angrily, then, readers might imagine we write politics! No, we don’t write politics, we write the truth!

Is truth politics or politics can ever become truth?  That is the dilemma!

There is now a severe drought and the monsoons are delayed. Of course not much can be done by a government as far as nature’s playing truant is concerned.

So, we, like the Prime Minister”s Office, might have to simply wait and pray or curse the goods!
Now, there is this horrible news and pictures, visuals on the TV news channels about the severely malnourished children in the three or four districts of Madhya Pradesh. The visuals are very unsettling and the news about the deaths was simply unbearable.

What the highest and the mighty are doing?

Who asks these questions?

The print media is not exposing enough of this happening in the very heartland of India.
News channels do one great service, their exposures have an immediate impact on the viewers and their impact reaches everyone, including the ministers in Delhi.

But then, why there is no response, immediate or delayed from the concerned authorities?
So, malnourished children and their horrible deaths are now the hot news and they must be.
Let us hope the PMO would respond immediately.

Before we go over to the real constraints for the government, even the well-intentioned men and women at the Delhi’s plush offices are caught up by this horrible news, let us see what the malnourished children status everywhere is.

As per the FAO estimates that there are more than one fourth of India’s one billion people are undernourished, their number increasing to 230.5 million in 2003-05 from 199.9 million in 1995-97.

In a study published in the EPW by the well-known and well-admired Jean Dreze and others (Dreze is an enthusiast of the rural employment scheme for the new comers of this column), the population of India, of which 74 per cent of them has a per capita daily calories of consumption which is below the minimum norm of 2,100 kilocalories for urban areas and 2,400 kilocalories for rural areas.

There are more statistics and though statistics is sometimes quite boring we have to have this figures so that our complacent ministers might get some mental disturbance!

The finance ministry’s Expert Group (we have so many experts groups and we don’t know on date where the PM’s so many experts groups are now and whether they have been discontinued and the money saved or not, this particular expert group studied the agricultural indebtedness (anyone interested in such questions, anymore?), this group reported in July 2007, noted agriculture which provides livelihood for all of us (right?), there is an ironically growing hunger in the rural areas!

Yes, the food producers are the hungry people as well!

Even the farm households with upto 4 hectares (I am, mind you, quoting here an expert and a consultant to the FAO itself!), these households can’t earn enough from farming to meet the basic consumption needs!

More than 80 per cent of India’s farmers own less than 2 hectares each!
So, you can imagine the rural realities!

So, when a complacent government talks of aam aadmi, what credibility you would attach to such talks?

So, the new government has promised to offer you and me good governance? Then, what the government would do first?

To ensure the poor and the majority in the rural areas to get their basic needs?

So, enters Sonia Gandhi now, the latest hot news is that she chose to write to the Prime Minister to ensure the food security act, the minimum 35 kg at Rs.3 each.

Is she taking a leaf from the TN Chief Minister Karunanidhi to give free rice, almost as a sort of taking the ration rice and distributing free for whoever comes to take it?

No, there must still be a sort of order, a certain norms of basic common sense and the cheap food grains must really reach the most deserving.

Is this likely to happen?

There are so many administrative and logistical problems.
There are highly questionable practices by the states, in TN; there is a great deal of bogus ration cards distributed.

To get a ration card in India is the most difficult and complicated of administrative hassles!
A ration card is a man’s own identity and even a sense of self-dignity.
So, the free rice scheme will surely test Manmohan’s widely kept secret, he is a capable of administrator or a great deliverer of his promises!

Now, back to the main highway of truth!

According to the expert group report, the much talked about liberalisation-driven free market economic reforms hadn’t reached one critical sector. What is it?

It is the biggest sector. Namely, the agriculture sector where this endemic poverty, endemic hunger and the shame of all shames, the currently reported hunger by death by the malnourished Indian children! A tragedy? What else?

But do hear the anguished cries of these children or their households?

Very unlikely, given the mindset, the media conspiracy and the sycophants around the centres of power, in Delhi and in the state capitals.

Now, agriculture sector is not growing, right?

Yes, the farm output in the 1990s grew at 1.16 per cent annually, slower than the yearly population growth of 1.9 per cent, marking return to the situation of the 1970s.Now, the FAO says that the combined decline or stagnation or even decline of the agri sector also marks the FAO observation, though it might look paradoxical, that in India there is a stagnating per capital food availability, at about 2,400 kilocalories per day since the 1990s.

This observation of course goes or must go against the common sense political observers.
There is so much populist politics; the very current election also saw the populist politics winning the votes.

In TN, in AP even in Bihar and UP and Orissa and MP we saw well-governed states won elections and in all these states there is this sort of populist schemes, from free rice,free3 power to what else even free colour TV sets and yet we see the tragedy of malnourished  deaths of children.

The NREGP is said to have won the last elections for the Congress party, right?
So, now a free food scheme, a food security act and the distribution of grains and funds to the states might ensure a continuation of the rule of the Congress party?
That is a subject that must be interested and must be debated.

Rural India is still a complex picture, indeed.

To understand and make people safe from very many challenges would call for a much deeper vision and a deeper commitment.

Panchayat raj institutions must be made to work more systematically. May be food grains distribution must be done though some such PPP models.

Food is not just economics. It is also politics, it is also about power, empowering people, empowering people to share their freedoms and there is also a sense of citizenship and it is a very long process and a deeply moving concept, this empowering of the people, empowering of the individuals.

Rural governance is not more of the same, right?
Election results is not just vote banks changing sides. We must see election outcome in some deeper perspective.

It is time for some soul searching and introspection. More so when we consider some fundamentals that remain unchanged in the rural environment.
A range of reforms, panchayat reforms, Integrated Child Development Services, mid-day meals, reports of the Consortium of Civil Society Organisations, Forest Rights Act etc are some milestones for any rural reforms.
Bring in a new set of new faces to this reform process.

When it comes to elections and election strategists, what is easy is the assumptions about the rural voters.

Yes, there are rural voters, vote banks in fact, which turned in favour of the Congress over all.

To say that the aaam aadmi voted for the Congress is only partially true.
We have to clear some hangups, after the many days of gap.

First, the caste-based politics. Is the caste-based voting this time didn’t play a major role in producing the results, which is the number of seats to parties, as it used to give in the past?

There is no clear answer this time too. Each state seems to have given a different set of reasons for the parties to lose and gain, as they did.

First, the BJP lost. Second, the Left lost. Third, the youth vote was not as decisive as it is made out now. So many surveys and statistics show that the youth very much voted as the older generation does. It is reported the Congress did a shae worse among young voters than the rest of the electorate! Even the choice of the younger members for Rahul Gandhi are “more or less” the same belonging to the older age group. This seems to be a consistent pattern in the previous election studies as well.

The attitudes of the youth in the West are different from the youth in India; the Western youth articulate their politics better, in a more often radical way than what their counterparts do here. The youth power, as such, is not a distinctly a decisive political force, as we imagine.

Then, there is the women vote. There is this time a record number of women MPs. This is a welcome change.

Women, it seems now decide, on their own, 43 per cent said they decide on their own. This is a welcome development. The Muslim vote?

Yes, this vote this time went in favour of the Congress over all, in UP and in West Bengal as well. In other states as well we see the Muslims over all are becoming more secular and modern minded when it comes to vote share, the traditional claimants like the SP in UP and the Left in West Bengal seem to have changed.
Then comes the regional and chauvinist parties.

In TN, there is still the hold of the Dravidian parties, the Congress lost heavily even in alliance with the DMK, while the ADMK too seemed to have lost heavily unexpectedly even in alliance with the Left parties and other caste parties.
The rural vote?

The rural votes are dominated by the Dalits and other lower castes; it is these castes who voted also in large numbers, the urban vote showed apathy while the rural votes were in higher percentages. Money power?

Yes, money power played a significant role in some states, more so in a more distinctive way in TN. Part machinery. Yes, party machinery is what mattered and the motivation. Many of the election studies or the TV channels comments dealt with the other extraneous factors like the glamour of film star candidates and others. The fact remains that even with a so-called dedicated cadre-based parties like the Left, the CPI and the CPI (M), we see this time, the parties suffered heavily in Kerala and West Bengal. We know for sure in Kerala the CPI (M) is as corrupt as in the neighbouring Tamil Nadu. So, the CPI (M) suffered, while the DMK did well, more wooing to the practice of distributing and sharing the spoils of election cash bundles.

May be it is the same now everywhere. Black money is a big factor and no one says it so openly, may be the Congress spent more money this time, while the BJP and others like (the AIADMK) didn’t spend as much. Why?

Simply because the parties concerned didn’t have the funds, they couldn’t generate the required funds. A simple and unglamorous explanation? So be it.
The DMK earned this time enough notoriety for its stubborn demands for plush portfolios.

In the process, the Congress lost face and also quickly saved face.
The Prime Minister had to eat his words and swallow his pride and acknowledge in public that he didn’t say anything unfavorable about the DMK claimants for plum portfolios like surface transport and telecommunications.

And yet  we saw the ultimate winner, the one who had the last laugh was the DMK chief who had it all he wanted, though he lost it out in seeking the surface transport for his near loyalist who the New Delhi TV channels  castigated the DMK for using the Delhi government portfolios as ATMs!

So, the money power, the cadre power and a well oiled party machinery that rigs the votes are all contributing factors for the sorts of wins we saw in some of the key states. The states that gave a mixed verdict from the larger and broader ideological perspective,

So what is the role or relevance of ideologies in this elections? A good question that must provide us some reasonable answers as out polity is evolving towards a more liberal and a more positive vote for change for the better of the largest number of people.

Some ideologists and articulators might despair about the persistence of high malnourished children, pregnant women. The government expenditure on health and education, the lowest in the world (Mihir Shah).

Is this the vote for more economic reforms? More privatisation is more reforms?
Such questions would trouble any conscience! Conscience wont let us make some facile assumptions of change, rural governance and sustainable fight to reduce poverty and social deprivations.

All this calls for much more serious dialogue and introspection.

Governance is not more of the same, right?