Development agenda doesn’t win voters! Not yet!
The 2009 Lok Sabha elections make a definite paradigm shift. There is a new emphasis on development and government performance. The Congress harps on its performance and cites the Bharat Nirman and rural employment guarantee schemes as the two flagship development schemes and appeals for the aam aadmi votes.
The BJP has an aggressive new agenda, it has announced a 100 new infrastructure projects, a new vision agenda, The 100 projects listed make for inspired reading, let us admit.
Even if 50 per cent of the promises made in the agenda is taken up, it would drive the much-touted and much assumed Dr.Manmohan Singh’s economic expertise-ridden(more jargon-ridden than substance-ridden!)agenda of development.
It looks as the election heat catches up the fight between the BJP and the Congress is likely to turn the people even towards the BJP. Why? after all the BJP under the tireless campaigning of its leader, L.K.Advani, has turned the spotlight on the weakness of not just the Prime Minister but also the weakness of the other leader, Sonia Gandhi and also her team of Congressmen, most of them late-comers to the party and their loyalty is mixed and everyone knows they are there just for the power and the pelf.
After all who are the familiar faces these days on the TV news channels? It is just lawyers turned spokespersons cum minister. Kapil Sibal and Singhvi and even Jayanti Natarajan, they are all lawyers, they know how to twist and turn the words and arguments, even P.Chidambaram is only such a clever manipulator of words and phrases.
The economic agenda of the Congress party is not a party programme, it is a government programme, any government that comes to power in Delhi or any leader who turns up a coalition, has to have only a programme like the one in operation. Even here, for any one who is serious about digging out the facts, the much highly rated National Highways Authority is a brainchild of the Vajpayee regime.
In fact, under Vajpayee years it was a shining success, under Dr.Singh the NHAI is a failure, Mr.T.R.Balu made mess of it.
So, this time there is a critical shift in the popular perception of which party would suit the peoples’ own well-being.
Whoever performs well, gives good governance, gives development and its various components, social infrastructure, education, essential articles, free rice and health schemes and economic infrastructure, electricity, irrigation and roads and good governance, less corruption, lok ayukta and such institutions, the people might prefer to vote for the development agenda of the party or parties only.
We can see this change of the voters’ perceptions in Bihar, in MP and Chhattisgarh and elsewhere.
Having said this there is another side to democratic politics.
People do choose for periodic change of faces.
In MP under Digvijay Singh education and panchayat governance acquired a national level appreciation. Yet Singh lost after two terms. In AP too under Naidu’s such an international-level brilliant performance, he had to lose not because he was not liked but people wanted to have a change.
So, there is something more than just black and white choices between development and the rest.
Yes, caste still dominates. UP shows the hold of the Dalit power. So too the old fellows, Lalu Yadav and Karunanidhi, they still cling to old mindset, caste calculations and chauvinism.
The Left give another picture. In Bengal and Kerala, people haven’t seen good roads, good jobs and good living standard. Yet they win. In Gujarat too we see that people don’t choose for a modern and progressive rising living standard. The state indulged in the worst communal crisis and yet Modi parades himself as a vote winner!
So, this time who would form the government in Delhi? Advani? Yes, there is a fair and not a faint chance!