Indian democracy is alive and kicking?
The Indian debate has ramifications beyond its borders!
Yes, the test is talking the truth and upholding political morality!
Who will be the next Prime Minister?
Anna Hazare disbanded his team. Now, Ramdev has started a fast. Fasting in democratic politics has its own power and limitations. India has a two party system nationally and at the national level; at best we can have national level two party led coalitions.
This is the reality of power politics in India. India has to look at the outside world, India’s neighbours, Pakistan, China and other countries in Asia and the Indian debate has ramifications beyond its borders. Corruption has to be attacked by Lokpal and other electoral reforms. But then see what is the response of the ruling combine, the hotchpotch of the coalition partners of the Congress.
Steeped in corruption, the coalition partners are not willing to give a word on their promise to enact legislation of Lokpal.
And what is wrong when the Leader of the Opposition, L.K.Advani, asks some hard questions within the precincts of Parliament.
How the confidence vote in 2008 was secured, asks the Opposition leader.
The whistle blowers were sent to jail and crosses were spent to secure the trust vote.
So, such ugly realities of high corruption can be hidden under the carpet and we can all walk upright with such high corruption on our minds? What sort of democracy we are talking about and what sort of democratic message we send out to our neighbours and to the outside world?
So, Advani has a role and also a chance to contend for the next Prime Minister’s role. Why not?
Which party, which individual leaders people would trust and vote?
Difficult to say. But people at the national and state levels have defeated money power and abuse of power. This we saw in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and latest in UP.
Even at the Centre we saw command politics defeated more than once in Independent India.
Candidates too started sounding support bases, if not supporters!
What are the issues, real and strategic electoral power formations?
India is the world’s largest democracy. This truism for whatever it is worth needs to be repeated so that we can have a starting point.
But Indian democracy is not run democratically as it is! This is also a truism though everyone, the big players, always try to hide from the public view or from their own conscience!
The point is that every big, why, even small players, know well that after all politics is a power game, the game has its own rules.
One is how to survive where we are and improve our surviving luck!
For the elections come every five years and that is the only redeeming feature of Indian democracy in this part of the world. In the West it is always taken from granted. There are periodic elections and from the USA to Europe, every four(as in USA)and five as in the rest of Europe, in France it is every 7 years, the general elections save the countries form autocratic rule and misuse of authority as in the dictatorships which are unfortunately still prevail in many countries]
As for Indian democracy, in the last 65 years it has evolved, largely on positive lines and we are now a mature sort of democracy. But there have been deterioration lately, this can be of course traced from Indira Gandhi days. Now, after Sonia Gandhi assumed the role of the Congress President, as on now till today, there has been steady deterioration.
The problem today and in the next two years till the next elections in 2014,there can be any type of crisis.
Now, L.K.Advani, the BJP patriarch, has thrown a bombshell in his blog that the next Prime Minister in 2014 might as well be one neither belonging to the Congress or the BJP but a third person supported by either one of these dominant parties.
This gives us time and also an opportunity to reflect on the veteran’s predictions.
First L.K.Advani doesn’t see any role for himself.
The BJP is now so divided into factions and in fact it is not in any shape. Nor is the Congress, though no one is speaking out
Why the Congress is also in a bad shape? Why no one is also speaking out in that party or from the friendly allies?
This is simple. Every party leader, big and small knows well, that neither the Congress nor the BJP, alone or in coalition, can hope to get a comfortable 270-280 seats in the Lok Sabha.
This would be a real miracle. Though miracles happen in politics, this wish is just a pious wish and can never become a miracle.
The outward reasoning is simple. We can see the behaviour of the parties and their leaders.
The current outwardly aspiring ones, Modi, Nitish and Mulayam Singh Yadav have their own strengths and limitations. The others who are also aspirants in other parties, let us say the second rung, Mamata and Jayalalitha, even Mayawati are at best powerful in their areas but they are neither steady figures nor given to any broad acceptability.
From the Congress too there is a dearth of talents as it is.
Rahul Gandhi is proving to be elusive at best and simply not suited for various reasons, though the entire chorus of the Congress coterie would cry foul for any such observation.
After all, politics is about power and power politics is so ruthless and ven bloody and as Indian polity is evolving there is a sort of transition from being accustomed to command and control politics and the country and polity to moving towards a more freer formations of many permutations and combinations.
Under Gandhi and Nehru, even Indira Gandhi the command politics worked, under Indira it led of disasters, under Sonia the command politics initially seemed to work, as when Manmohan Singh raised much hope but as years moved we saw a great deal of disarray.
The party structure deteriorated, almost the old, democratically seemed party structure died and almost nothing came in its place, there now almost nothing even in the PCC headquarters these days!
In the government too things went from bad to worse, the list of ministers with the taint of corruption charges is unacceptable!
That is why the Anna Hazare phenomenon came into being. But Anna phenomenon, the fight against corruption, seems to be a long-term battle. The short-term seems grim but not impossible in a democracy like India’s. We have already some institutions but new institution like a strong Lokpal can be passed if it is made an electoral issue. Election time is most opportune and some bold initiatives by even small parties and alliance parties can push this agenda to the fore.(I had a talk over the phone with Justice Santosh Hegde, a core member of Team Anna at one point). State-level parties and movements also can push this agenda, that is the agenda to set up Lok Ayukta wherever it is not there(as in TN, for instance)
So too the political ideologies. Whatever be the relevance or otherwise of ideological debates, there is still some need for some vision, some ideals and some moral core.
A need for articulation of a political vision for India
As it is, Indian political scenario s devoid of any larger political vision. An over-arching road map ahead, so to say. All parties, from L.K.Advani-orchestrated Hindu vs Muslims issue in Assam where in fact it is in fact a tribals vs non tribals violence and also from the Sonia Gandhi-led Congress coalition that is anything but a desperate survival strategy, or from crisis to crisis day to day existence, tainted by large scale corruption, corrupt ministers holding forth and other parties simply not upto the mark.Even so-called regional satrapts, from Mulayam Singh Yadav to Sharad Pawar to even Mamata or Sena chief Balasaheb Thakeray, all are stirring the existing pot. Not any new vision or strategy or even any new ideology or insights for giving India a place in sun,so to say!
We need ideas, new ideas and more ideas to make India a thriving youthful India in an emergent new world of growth and opportunities and a purpose to stand up be counted in the international arena. There is a vacuum in the political centre-stage!
As we can see the moral core of the Congress ideology is simply rotten.
Whatever the PM pronounces, in such inaudible voices, is the Congress ideology. Others don’t even talk this much. Neither Rahul Gandhi nor Sonia Gandhi.
All we have left with in the Congress party is the family.
Can this one family deliver?
Also, the present allies, the DMK and the others?
So, the 2014 elections would be held on simple gambling.
It is possible that only those leaders or individuals who can articulate a strong vision for India, India as a great democracy, a great secular multi-cultural and multi-ethnic and multi religious society, a progressive society and a culture and a civilization well-articulated foreign policy for India. India as an Asian nation with a sense of emerging Asian solidarity can only win friends and influence people. India has the image of a peace-loving country.
We need leaders from the parties and from outside, leaders can take India forward into a world where there could be more integration, more sharing and more envisioning a more balanced international order.
USA and other major powers treat India with such consideration, the next Prime Minister must be a strong personality. Must be a modern and progressive personality. He or she must represent the whole of India, the entire subcontinent, no more North-South, no more Hindi-Tamil or other separatist sentiments. India must live with friendly neighbours.
The Congress must seek ideologically compatible allies.
So the BJP. And other parties.
India must have a broad picture of a strong regional power.
So,the next Prime Minister?
Anybody with a strength of character, moral character, great tests of truth and adherence to strict Constitutional norms, sacrifice, and education can aspire to become the Prime Minister and deliver on such noble promises!
People, citizens must be driven by some dreams and aspirations and energized by some shared vision.