Manmohan Singh is a sure bet? Or, other names?
In the Opposition ranks loom L.K.Advani and in the third front Mayawati, Mulayam Singh or even Chandrababu Naidu?
There is one difference this time, that is, on the eve of the next general elections. That is the most mysterious silence on the part of everyone in the Congress on the next Prime Ministerial candidate!
Will Manmohan Singh be the obvious choice? Very unlikely.
Given the current groupings within the Congress, those who seem to be close to Sonia Gandhi or others who might not be so close but they will also play a role. Men like Arjun Singh and persons like him are known party intriguers.
There are circles within circles within the party.
Every other Sonia Loyalist is a known sychopant, so everyone would push for the name of Rahul Gandhi, in the hope of positioning themselves firmly within the power structure.
And yet, the outcome of the election results is anybody’s guess.
For one thing, the current incumbent of the South Block is extremely shrewd and he wont let go his opportunities.
So, he might upstage all his potential rivals in singing the praise of Rahul Gandhi or the virtues of the Madam with the fervent hope that such gesticulations would pay dividends.
Already there is talk, within the current UPA partners themselves, as to who should be the next Prime Minister. Sharad Pawar for one is eyeing the job for very long. He has everything going for him except perhaps the trust factor. Having let down Sonia Gandhi so openly on the foreigner issue and formed his own party, it is extremely difficult for Pawar to win the Congress backing, unless other extraneous factors come into play.
The Left is now left out of the power-brokering and yet the Left’s hold on certain individual leaders is taken seriously by the leaders themselves.
So ,everyone seems to be courting the Left. In the list are the leaders, from the DMK chief to Sharad Pawar and Chandrababu Naidu to of course, the new found messiah of the Dalits, Mayawati.
So, the Left would play a role, one cant say whether this role would be decisive, in the formation of the alliances and also post-elections in the formation of the next government.
Given the present rupture, the Left might not favour Manmohan Singh. But the Left might not have much room for maneuver but once the numbers favour the third front, then the Left might become active in projecting Mayawati or some dark horse even.
Will Sharad Pawar be the dark horse? It seems he is positioning himself for all such eventualities. Perhaps, he is the only person in politics, who can match an Amar Singh in terms of resources, both the big corporates as well as the smaller Opposition votes.
What we found in the trust vote debate, before and after the voting, it is the raw power play that matters even in a democracy like Indian one where the weakness of the average individual MP for money and other temptations of office and perks or sheer lack of any commitment, is overwhelming.
See the plight of a Sibhu Soren who defected to Congress and yet he is to be rewarded for the services rendered.
Such experience would only drive many of the smaller parties towards some over-ambitious and even adventurist players like Pawar.
The Congress, left to Sonia, might opt for some known weaklings within the ranks and there are too many of them now in the close circles of the Gandhi family.
Anyway, the mystique that is created around Manmohan would be burst in the emerging restless all over the capital.
Delhi is tired of the old style over-bureaucratising of the government machinery.
The government is no more a favourite of the people at large, netiehr the farmers are pleased with the debt write-offs and the follow-up measures.
There are no follow-up measures in fact. Banks are becoming more bold and demand government to pay it back, its interest on the loans waived etc. The lack of enthusiasm of this government to reach out to farmers and the villagers is so blatant. The government is Delhi-centric and bureaucracy-centric.
Farm sector or for that matter the rural India would not surely opt for a lacklusture, faceless and wooden administration that is disconnected with the people at the grassroots.
Who knows? There could be surprises in the elections. A third front candidate, supported by the weakened or reduced UPA might become also a possibility.
After all, Mulayam Singh and Amar Singh duo wont let go the opportunity.
The next battle for the Prime Minister’s post might be fought as an essentially UP battle!
After all, it is the UP where the strong contenders are based and well-positioned. Mulayam Singh and Mayawati are the two such contenders. So, who knows the two main alliances, one centered around the Congress and the other around the BJP might be pushed or forced to support either one of the UP antagonists. It all depends upon how the election scenario builds up.
One thing that would make a great difference is that the vote banks this time would be calculated as to how the traditional Dalit votes would join together to vote for Mayawati at the all India level or get divided around the local politics.
Mayawati would surely bring about a new dimension to the government formation at the Centre.
The Left, now left out of the mainstream party of the Congress might be left with not much room for maneuver but have to settle with the hotchpotch of the third front and might sail with the winds that might blow as opportunistic alliances are made on the eve of the election of the leader of the third front as Prime Minister.
As for the individuals and their merits, a democracy like India must also openly debate as to the need for a new type of a leader to take India forward.
Surely, Manmohan proved to be extremely weak in many respects.
Even the Indo-US nuclear deal, even if it is made to India’s desires would not make Manmohan as a great leader. He is a self-effacing leader or a nominee. That is all.
India needs surely a leader with some vision. Some clear articulation. He or she must be a politician, a political animal so to say-so that he or she must reflect the aspirations of the youth and the weaker sections.
The Indian youth, winning the Olympic medals signifies a new generation change.
Shall we say the country suddenly finds itself a new younger generation, this generation is even all post-Rahul generation also! All in their teens and post twenties. Abhinav Bindra is just 24, our boxer and wrestler all in their early twenties!
This is the India we are now suddenly confronted with. Both the privileges and the under privileges with which this new youth are growing up might not have the patience to listen to tired and retired and completely out of date old men and very bureaucratic men.
We need young achievers, we need also much idealism of the youth in our political play, and it is a p [political morality play. What we find in the sort of political culture we have been confronted with the Singh regime is one of utter cynicism and also utter irreverence to any sense of morality.
So, we must have a new political culture, a robust sense of honesty, not taking recourse to fudge records and receipts to become MP or elected as PM. We needn’t pay bribes to win trust vote. We needn’t sign the nuclear deal without a sense of pride in India’s own inherent moral stances.
Even now, India must sign the CTBT even if we win the deal and go for nuclear energy generation. India should not be seen in the company of Pakistan, North Korea and Israel. What is good for the world, 179 countries have signed and India holding out is neither in the Gandhi an or Nehruvian tradition, right?
Even Vajpayee is quoted very approvingly and admiringly, in renouncing future nuclear tests. What is the stand of Dr.Singh? Has he himself any personal stand? Personal beliefs?
Should India have such a person with no commitments, as Prime Minister? And gather all sorts of unfounded claims on his stature or commitments?
India must become a mature democracy and must know how to express its opinions on momentous issues. This is now missing in the scheme of things, to put it mildy!
The point is that India’s nuclear energy programme is not a sudden discovery of Manmohan Singh.
The most crushing thought we have a Prime Minister who is projected as an expert but we don’t know any of his views on any of the substantive issues any better clearly!
But if we have a leader like, say, Chandrababu Naidu we can be sure he can be expected to put India on the world map. We need leaders like him.
Or, even Mulayam Singh can be expected to make a different type of a mass leader.
If it is the choice of a communalist leader like Advani or a blatant casteist like Mayawati, the voters of India, specially the youth of India would make a clear and responsible choice, I am sure.
So, the next elections must be fought not on any secrecy clause, as one can suspect between the Congress and the unreliable opportunistic allies like the DMK just for the sake of perpetuating themselves in power.
Let us hope that the 2009 elections would be seen as a post-Olympic India of youthful dreams.
Let our leaders not betray the hopes and aspirations of the millions of the new generation, we mean the post-Rahul youngsters of the new and bubbling enthusiasm as we witness in places like Biwandi and across the nameless villages and small towns of India.
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