Without agri sector being part of it?
PM confesses it is a “peculiar puzzle”!

The next general elections will be won or lost on farmer’s issues?
The PM is clueless and might not care for!

Yes, the next elections are looming large on everyone’s mind. The 54th National Development Council meeting saw enough to doubt whether the PM is speaking for himself or for the Congress party or what else.

He was speaking like an academic, he dwelt with on the US slowdown, the likely impact on the Indian economy which many predicting to grow not more than 8 per cent. Goldman Sachs, a heavyweight international authority on economic prospects in the world says so in a research report. The same view is expressed by many, like IMF and others.

The US is in a financial crisis (subprime crisis) and might even get into a recession, many fear.

In such a depressing scenario, the PM, supposed to be an economic expert says certain things, that to say the least, is very disappointing. He is the Prime Minister, heading a coalition whose partners are already pulling in opposite directions and clearly worried over the  exact nature of their partners in the very-soon-to be held elections!

The CPI (M) with 61 MPs is the most worried. They have bruised their image badly and are openly apprehensive about their prospects even in W.Bengal where their own allies, RSP and Forward Bloc might part ways. The DMK in the South with just 16 MPs and yet with so much mischief value might pose several problems for the Congress.

Of course, the victory of Narendra Modi and his postures as he expressed his views charring the PM’s 11th Plan allocations to the minorities as a challenge to BJP minority-bashing as an election issue. The BJP is already with L.K.Advani elevated as the Prime Ministerial candidate and with Modi in place and with the current mood for changes in the light of the CPI (M), DMK posturing, there is an anti-incumbency wave.

The PM’s much-touted track record in economic management can be faulted on several grounds. Even now, on the eve of the next elections, the man talks of a 10 per cent growth! When the country is yet to demonstrate its actual growth, beyond 8 per cent! How the PM is cut off from the current reality? From the current mood of the nation!

First, the patent failure to do anything in agriculture growth. The man obsessed with the rate of economic growth is helpless to lift the agri sector into his own pet theme of inclusive growth.

What is inclusive growth if agri sector is not part of it?
Yes, the PM’s confession cam through the NDC meeting. The Pm wondered about the “peculiar puzzle” over the exclusion of the agri sector in his high accelerated 9 per cent growth and that didn’t touch the agri sector! The share of the GDP, said the PM, dropped to below 20 per cent and yet, he said, there is no shift in the proportion of population and there is this heavy dependence of the vast majority of the Indian people on agriculture as an occupation and a source of employment and living.

There is no peculiarity in this so-called puzzle!
To be frank, the PM is no leader and no learner.
He as the Pm doesn’t travel outside Delhi, he doesn’t visit the rural interiors, and he doesn’t feel comfortable in the company of the villagers and the poor.
He is also surrounded or he himself chooses to surround himself with yes men all over. All preferably retired persons who are looking for a comfortable living in Delhi at government expenses. This, this PM, gives in plenty and in an ample manner. That is why nothing moves and nothing happens by the way of projects or institutional changes.

Even on farmers’ debts, the PM, talks as if it is business as usual!
No new ideas and no new action plans. You always read about that would be done and this would be done type of just routine talk and no action.
This government is also caught in some peculiar non-priority areas like the Indo-US nuclear deal over which so much time has been spent and the outcome of which even after the deal is concluded, the results might not be worth the time and diversion of attention.

The country is neither in a believing mood, the country is not in a mood to give the benefit of doubt to the PM and after all he is not a political person, he never had the popular mandate to conclude such a deal over which the Communists also spent lot of unnecessary time and rhetoric and they too suffered a lot on the Nandigram massacre.

So, this general election might not be fought directly on farmers issues but a host of issues that might have impacted on the range of popular issues like rising food prices, shortage of food and vegetables and also a common perception of this government not being able to deliver on a host of issues like education, employment and the regional aspirations.

Also, the quality of the government, the quality of the Cabinet ministers would also impact the common lackluster performance of some of the more important ministries. Except for one or two ministries like Commerce, the other heavyweight ministries like home, agriculture and others are seen almost not being effective instruments of change.

The home ministry would be seen as a big disappointment. See the rising violence, terrorist attacks, the naxalite menace, many jail-breaks and the inordinate delays in the court proceedings have created a sense of despondency in the minds of the people. A sense of security and a hope for speedy justice is receding under the present regime.

So too Mr.Sharad Pawar’s regime. The minister is more seen as cricket administrator and he didn’t apply his skills to revamp the agri sector. Pawar would be seen as the man who saw the largest number of farmers’s suicides and in his own state and yet he couldn’t do anything that caught the attention of the people.
The finance minister is a clever man. But his cleverness stops at that. He too couldn’t come forward to revamp the agri credit system, nor the co-op credit system. Then, what use the finance minister’s skills?

The other ministers are all seen, also as Sonia Gandhi’s coterie, they are not men and women who were chosen for their singular contributions to neither the nation’s image nor their skills. They were closer to Sonia Gandhi and that is all.
The ministers must share some common vision and values. The Pm hasn’t helped certainly to articulate some such vision. He is non-serious or plainly incapable of articulating such a vision. He knows or he should try to know that inclusive growth is near impossible under our present democratic institutions that are rather weak or getting weakened or  our corporate lobbies are  becoming so powerful to sawy the individual ministers to serve the partisan interests. Capitalism that too globalised financial markets and American style corporate management don’t go with inclusive growth, to serve the poor, there are data and experience from the US to prove so. So, fast growth rate of which the finance minister is a vocal advocate, is a sure path towards greater inequality only! Strong democratic institutions, more grassroots level institutions and state regulations are needed to ensure some sort of decentralised growth processes. That is for another day!

As for Mrs.Gandhi, his leadership in tandem with the PM would be judged by the people on several counts. She certainly alienated herself from the party’s stalwarts. Older generation of men and women who stood by the party and sacrificed a lot and yet they were all overlooked for high offices, be the President and Vice-President Offices and also in many nominations, be it Governors or Rajya Sabha members. All these choices under Sonia Gandhi are not a testimony to her status as a leader of the great party the Congress is!

So, the new friends and allies she stood by or chose to stand by in the way she did in the last three and half years would be tested this time.
They are likely to betray her and they would fight more hard for distancing themselves from the Congress and to that extent, the party might emerge this time as an entity whose strength or its stature is only a matter of guess, as things are.
One hopes a more realistic leadership emerges; a new Prime Minister with a more and open mandate emerges.

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