The debate over strong and weak Prime Ministers!
There is a furious debate in the Indian media, more on the more powerful and impactful TV news channels than in the drab and dull print media. It is all about how the now on the defensive-Congress led coalition facing up to the determined challenge posed by the formidable Opposition Prime Ministerial candidate L.K.Advani who heads the BJP coalition.
Yes, the stakes are high for both the Congress and the BJP, as the current election scenario is entirely a changed one. There is the any number of combinations in the Opposition ranks in the so-called Third or even the Fourth front.
The regional allies, the once and even now powerful allies, all of course driven by the caste and personality based egos, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadva and Paswan, the three formidable caste leaders who pose a threat to the Sonia led Congress which strictly is not a cohesive coalition at all but just a convenient grouping centering around the vague notion that once a ruling group would somehow remain and likely to become another ruling group, whoever joins or leaves at whatever point of arrivals and departures, so to say.
Yes, we can see the otherwise very competent Sharad Pawar, they split Congress leader from Maharashtra talking and doing things that might look very confusing to the ordinary outsider eyes but a very big opportunist politician whom no one takes very seriously and more so no one trusts him than himself about his own so-called strategy to become the next Prime Minister.
What a shame for a man who rose in the ranks of the Congress but now for all practical purposes a deserter, if we can use such a term for this otherwise India’s richest politician who has so much money floating around him in so many avatars!
The others, Lalu Yadav have become now a great headache for Sonia Gandhi. Poor woman! She trusted him so much and so long but now the senior man turned a maverick, he talks everyday a new thing, now his trump card seems to be his secrets about how the Congress was party to the demolition of the Babri Masjid. So, the Congress is caught on the wrong foot. So, Lalu can’t be relied at all when it comes to selecting the new Prime Minister. Certainly, he would ditch Sonia and Manmohan wont matter in the matter at all. So too the other two cow-belt leaders: Mulayam, no one knows for sure in which direction he is heading. He seems to be friendless now, the CPI(M),the most talkative party now, its General Secretary seems to have so many tricks up his sleeve. Karat might join with Mulayam only when there are numbers from the Amar Singh stable, Amar Singh is the one who is capable of buying up the numbers with the power of money. Oh, now money flows in the Indian election process like the water in the India’s rivers. Everyday, the police seizes the currency bags from the speeding cars and vans all across the states in Karnataka and AP and not yet in TN.
The going average rate of payment per capita as on date in Karnataka and TN at any rate is Rs.2,000 voters! The flow of liquor is no less steady. Every day newspapers report the exact seizures. Yes, after all how long one can hide the funds, the size is so huge that one can’t hold it in secret for long. Now, every candidate, both in the North and in the South files along with their nomination papers their assets. The average Indian candidate in the elections is now a crorepati. Also, the candidates are become bolder and more honest with their accumulated wealth. They try at least to explain with their electorate that they earned the wealth in politics. To that extent, the Indian electoral process is becoming more open and more transparent.
The next Prime Minister?
Yes, the next Prime Minister is the hot topic now.
Surely, Sonia Gandhi seems to be banking upon the poor or helpless (or more cunning than all of us?)Dr.Manmohan Singh. Singh was heavily dependent upon his carefully cultivated image as the most honest man, more transparent and more efficient. Now, the myths are falling one after another.
The latest TV news channels debate this topic more often and more stridently. The other day, Karan Thapar, perhaps the most sought after anchor, in his very highly rated Devil’s Advocate show got together some of India’s very senior media hands, Inder Malhotra, Chandan Mitra, and Satyavradh Chaturvedi, the AICC hand and one or two others. The topic was how strong or weak is the Prime Minister Dr.Singh. And consequent upon this question was Singh’s credentials for his claims. The anchor posed the question how strong is Dr.Singh. The experts said that one’s strong or weak personality springs from his innate moral strengths. Said Chandan Mitra, the promoter and editor of the newspaper, Pioneer that Dr.Singh signed a sworn affidavit to say that he is a habitual resident of Assam to get elected to the Rajya Sabha. This, the PM, has done for four consecutive terms since 1991. While, said Mitra, with biting sarcasm, everyone knows, the whole country knows that Dr.Singh is not a native of Assam but of far off Punjab. In fact, even I don’t know, Dr.Singh was my contemporary at Oxford in my time, where Singh was born and what was his native place or his place of birth or upbringing.
Yes, Dr.Singh managed to become the Prime Minister of India without getting elected directly to the Lok Sabha, the House of the People as it was the custom and tradition.
This is a serious blot on the character of the man who claims to be an honest man, a man of great integrity and moral stature.
So, when Advani charges the Prime Minister as the country’s most weakest Prime Minister since Independence, it hurts the Congress party’s prospects as the most democratic-minded party and the most open party for all sorts of people, all sections, sects and religions and segments.
Is the BJP is a position to win the elections?
You can’t dismiss the BJP right now lightly. The once might Congress-led alliance is now gone. All the powerful regional parties, from the most secular to the most casteists, from the Samajwadi, RJP to the DMK and the ADMK and even the parties like Telugu Desam and others are all calculating the prospects for themselves in the post-poll scenario.
If the numbers favour them, then even the CPI(M) join hands once again with the Congress. If the numbers favour themselves, then any party might join hands with any other party to make a claim for Prime Ministerial job. There are so many in the line. From the old horse. Deve Gowda to Mulyama Singh Yadav to Paswan to even Mayawati and Jayalalitha and even Naidu. Who knows the Left might thrust upon the nation some utterly unworthy candidates, they are not averse to do this, see what they have done for the choice of candidates for the high Constitutional offices.
So, there is utter cynicism to despair to some faint hope that after all a great country like India might throw up some worthy personality.
As for L.K.Advani making it this time, there is some hope that he could still make it, the last chance for the war veteran. And mind you, the BJP as a party is highly motivated and has some of the most talented Indians in its ranks.
So, when it comes to make a dispassionate judgement, there is every chance that this time the Congress only has a very fant chance to make the government. While the chances for the BJP and the non-BJP and non-Congress forces to make up a coalition government the chances are fifty-fifty!