India needs a thinking Prime Minister, an activist Prime Minister!
India at the cross-roads!
The UPA government is past its mid-term. Already there are tremors in Delhi after the two successive defeats in Punjab and Uttaranchal. The BJP is on the revival trail. There is depression in the Congress camp; there is jubilation in the BJP circles.
Remember the days just after the 2004 election results? The BJP met with such an unexpected defeat that Vajpayee and L.K.Advani went into hiding for almost a full week. They were not to be seen for so long that there were so many theories floating about their disappearance from public view.
Yes, it is always a difficult thing for a leader to be true to his ideals and image. Vajpayee at that point of time was the tallest leader India had and the whole world admired him, the great world leaders sought his friendship, George Bush and Putin held him in such high esteem. He seemed to have embodied all that the West imagined the Eastern wisdom was all about, calm, poised and yet full of command over his people and speaking for peace and moderation. Every virtue that was missing in the world then and here India was led by such an admired figure.
Yet, the Indian electorate was so ungrateful and they defeated such a great leader into oblivion. But there was irony as well in that electoral debacle. The Delhi astrologers who are always on their jobs had one prediction. That was the prediction about Sonia Gandhi would never make it to the PM’s job. So, the BJP has cause for some mild recovery and yet it never recovered. It continued to get bogged down by internal squabbles. As of now, Vajpayee and Advani are still on the periphery, though the recent election victories once again revive hopes in both the leader’s camps.
But what about the Congress camp? It is here there much news and much to worry about. Dr.Manmohan Singh so far much admired, at least outwardly, is now in the dog house, at least in the eyes of the AICC insiders. There is so much mental gap between the PMO and the AICC and for a great party with such a glorious history like the Congress; it is not the prospect of the looming defeat in the next general elections that is a big worry. It is the prospect of the bJP emerging as a successful bidder for power in the next elections that is a cause for worry, not for the Congressmen but for the vast mass of people, for the liberal opinion, for the world at large.
On what rational grounds we are to explain the present plight of the Congress. The allies are no angels; they are as much devils, as any and they might jump ship as any ally would when the power seems slipping. It is here Sonia Gandhi, not she alone but the very liberal opinion, the very secular forces, the very progressive forces have to ponder over what holds in store for the country with so much at stake.
Only those who are lazy and status quoists would refuse to think. Those who are somewhat concerned about the larger picture, about the long term health of the country and the people, India as a great democracy, India as a strategic regional power, given our geo-strategic importance have lots of things to be worried about.
The trouble with Dr.Singh is that he is not a leader. He is a self-effacing person of some humble type and it is not his fault he finds himself in the PM’s chair. It is the fault of the very Indian system. This system, one of building one’s ideals and belief systems around one family, around the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that is the root cause of all our present troubles and dilemma.
Unfortunately, Sonia Gandhi’s authority is very much on the decline, the reason being that her PM and his deputies, at least the top few claim to be economic wizards, didn’t deliver on their promises. The obsession with economic growth rate doesn’t enthuse anybody, certainly not the electorate, as proved in Punjab and elsewhere. Also, the failure of some sectors like agriculture, even the social sectors, health, education and a host of schemes that were promised but were found to have grounded, currently the unruly inflation and the general disenchantment of the voters would surely lead the party to certain defeat in the next election.
The BJP at least had a surprise defeat. Now, it looks the Congress will surely meet with a much expected exit. This is not a happy scenario and it is only wisdom that all concerned give deep thought and do much introspection and come out with some ideas.
One thing that we have to be sure of is the fact that the Pm has gradually has come to lose his sheen that was once seen as his asset. He neither seems to think of issue and come out with his own ideas nor interested to draw the ideas of others or willing to initiate any policy measures that seem to be piling up on his table. All the promises remain promises and they continue to stare at him. The so many committees he set and after such a long time, no one seems to hear about the outcome of these committees.
He is a freeman or a captive? He couldn’t even affect a respectable Cabinet reshuffle, some of the ministers seem to be so non-performing and there has to be some reasonable and rational allocations or at least some rotations. So, nothing seems to be happening when it comes to dealing with security lapses, so many bombings, so much violence and loss of life and yet the situation seems to have not improved. The menace of the Naxalites, the prosecutions of the many sensitive cases are all left to hang where they were.
Yes, elections are becoming by and large fair and free and yet there is a need for electoral reforms, the Constitutional reforms, the adoption of the administrative reforms are all untouched. PMO is filled with retired officials and there is no indication that here is a PM who is giving new ideas a try, new faces in some imaginative assignments.
Even in some such cosmetic reforms like Lok Pal, the PM doesn’t seem to be interested, let alone he is serious about giving the CBI,the CVC any new initiative. If he is seriously scanning the newspapers he would find how much the people are dissatisfied with their daily lives, so much corruption, so much inefficiency in the delivery of public services, the World Bank reports on Governance has so many inspiring examples that are recommended for the states to adopt. No, the PM seems not to have any interest in such matters that would touch the lives of the people at the grass roots.
So, what is this democracy and what is this administration?
One more critical point is the way the major political parties operate. The Congress party with its high command structure is totally undemocratic and this sort of isolated one-person directed party structure is clearly obnoxious in a modern democracy. At least in the bJP there is this internal fight, the public display of disunity. That is much better than a supine submission of so many talented and ambitious persons just for the expectation of some future reward at some distant future, at least! This is very disconcerting and makes politics a dirty game.
Some of the ailing ministers must be given rest and retirement benefits. Younger faces must be put in responsible positions. Time and tide wait for none! What is the point of sitting idle and do nothing when everything points towards a certain disaster?
We see the world over there is ideas and initiatives about reforming their political systems. In UK, there is such an outrage that Tony Blair has to go, despite the electoral mandate. In the USA we see the Bush regime is already condemned by a vast section from within the Republican Party itself. In a latest book, Second Chance, by Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served as security adviser to Jimmy Carter, reviews the three Presidencies of the two Bushes and Clinton says:” American power may be greater in 2006 than in 1991,the country’s capacity to mobilize, inspire, point in a shared direction and thus shape global realities has significantly declined “Reason? America didn’t consult the world leaders; it is fearful and has become lonely in a hostile world.
Any lesson for India? In the present context? Yes, it is this: the Congress party as it is organizing itself is totally undemocratic and led by not wide consensus. The party is internal not cohesive. The government is internally not cohesive.