We Indians, have the unique distinction of being a part of the world’s largest democracy. We participate in free and fair elections (almost always), we can choose candidates of our liking (even crooks) and we can voice our opinions through protests & ‘dharnas’.
But for every Indian, the elections of 2014 hold a key to the India of the future. It is the right time for a change in leadership, to bring in boldness, change and economic liberalisation. Although our economic policy changed in 1991, we keep going back into the left-of-centre shell. Subsidies and sops remain the number one trick in the book. In the past decade, we have progressed remarkably. However, has the government performed beyond the call of duty?
In 2004, every Indian could take pride in the fact that we had a Muslim President and a Sikh Prime Minister for a predominantly Hindu populace. We had been promised inclusive growth but its ironical that the same Congress party’s Prime Minister had coined the “Garibi Hatao” slogan in early ’70s, while poverty in India is still widespread and absolute in nature. The fact is that as a nation, we have failed to provide inclusive growth, to ensure upliftment of every class and to provide social security to the backward classes. Congress, which has acquired the left of centre position since a long time, has failed in this objective which defines it. With corruption charges abound, the country gravely needs a change in leadership for proper governance and an economic turnaround. It is an open secret that Rahul Gandhi is the prime-ministerial candidate of the Congress and it is reverting back to its dynastic politics.
Who do we look to in these circumstances? The first answer would the BJP, the only other party with a wide national presence. Although being a hardcore right-wing party, the BJP is desperately trying to shed this image of it’s. Its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, has proven his credentials as a no-nonsense leader who believes in India’s economic revival and has projected himself as India’s messiah. But unless it is proven beyond any doubt that Mr. Modi had no hand whatsoever in the 2002 pogrom, he can never garner the support of Muslims (an important and united vote-bank). That said, he was given a clean chit by a Supreme Court appointed SIT and was granted relief by a trial court. At the moment, Modi is the BJP’s dark horse and India’s knight in shining armour, but is his Gujarat model and its national level implementation pure conjecture?
The alternate would be the Third Front. A coalition of regional parties, such a front has come into power quite a few times in India’s history. Notably, the government’s of Morarji Desai, V.P. Singh, Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujaral. However, these governments were marred by inefficieny and and incoherent approach towards the country’s well-being. Today’s third front is comprised of at least 3 aspiring Prime Ministers, SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, J. Jayalalitha and Nitish Kumar. What would it be like if such a front came to power? Of course this front can never complete a full-term, with all its conflicts and the fact that it would require outside support which maybe provided by the Congress (and as history suggests, will lead to its downfall). A Mulayam would want to abolish Hindi which would of course be unacceptable to Jayalalitha. Jayalalitha would want to release Rahul Gandhi’s assassins and while she’s at it, maybe she’ll inaugurate a monument in their honour. You know, to commemorate their struggles in jails. This front is quite unlikely to have enough seats and most of its members would probably defect and give outside support to the party most likely to form the government in a blatant act of opportunism.
What remains now is the new kid on the block, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the corruption warrior Arvind Kejriwal. They were written off in Delhi but they garnered enough support to form a government from Congress. And against all odds, it was Kejriwal who decided to resign. I had my money on Congress taking back their support. His government also decided a leftist approach with free water and subsidised electricity. His attacks on power discoms and Mukesh Ambani fondly remind us of a license-raj type of government. In this brief 49-day stay, Kejriwal had a no-nonsense, pure drama approach. His government was in the news everyday, for their dharnas and midnight raids. However, Kejriwal is a man in a hurry. Why does the AAP want to be the over-achiever? Their fight against corruption has garnered many supporters but one must observe that the AAP is relatively inexperienced. Kejriwal’s durbaar proved as much. The fact that he went to the extent of blocking Republic Day celebrations for the suspension of police constables puts them in a anarchist’s light and not in a serious politician’s.
According to me, in the current scenario, we have to choose between the lesser evils. Due to Congress’ proven inefficiency and corruption and the instability of the Third Front, we have to choose between the BJP and AAP. AAP’s inexperience and the fact that it can never form a government this year and its best show may be in urban pockets leaves us with the BJP. BJP cannot boast about secular origins. The Ram Mandir and 2002 riots have scarred it for life. However, Indians all around should realise that India has bigger fish to fry. Our immediate worries should be economic in nature. Good Economics can be Good Politics.