A prominent editor in India has often remarked that parties in India don’t win, instead they lose elections: a not-so-subtle hint at the prevalent fashion with regards to incumbency. The tragedy with our so-called democracy is that we often end up voting out, rather than voting in people who would be good to govern India. So is this real democracy after all when you are actually expending negative energy to make sure the same rogue doesn’t return.
The last five years have been terrible for India. Let’s face it, even though the economic meltdown is not the fault of the Manmohan Singh government, one has to admit the reaction of the government both in terms of speed and depth has been woefully inadequate. There have been more terrorist attacks in the last five years than in all our history and we’ve had a joker running the Home Ministry atleast until now. Add to that the fact, that this has been the most rag-tag coalition and you can see the disasters for yourself. I have no doubt in my mind that this has been the most corrupt Union Cabinet in the history of independent India led ironically by the most honest man. There is no question of Manmohan Singh’s integrity nor that of Sonia Gandhi but then take a look at some of the members of the Cabinet and your mind will boggle. In the good old days, these ministers would take cash, nowadays, they take equity.
The Satyam saga is reflective of the deep nexus between business and politics and it is sad that to this day, Sonia Gandhi has not fired Y Rajshekar Reddy of Andhra Pradesh for his known complicity in the Satyam scandal. When the terror attacks happened in Bombay, the response of the Union of India was pitiable and I can promise you should there be a recurrence of that today, the story will be the same. This government may not genuinely be soft on terror but it surely is perceived thus and this is not good news for the leadership of any country.
The one accolade this government deserved has been botched up as well: the Indo-US nuclear deal is a communication disaster: ask people in villages and cities across India and they won’t have a clue about the deal or its emergent benefits.
This government opened up many sectors but to great opaqueness. The fact that we have a mess in telecom and civil aviation is reflective of this lack of transparency. This government has had fugitives in the Cabinet (Shibu Soren) and known convicts (Lalu Prasad Yadav) not to mention the fact that DMK is now more known as Delhi Money for Karunanidhi. This is the reality of this government. What saddens me is that this is the same government which boasts of a brilliant Prime Minister, a bright (but arrogant) Chidambaram, a go-getter in the form of Kamal Nath and many many more, Young Scindia and Prasad are the light at the end of this tunnel and yet the government has mud on its face for so many critical things.
India is at vital cross-roads. We have issues with neighbourly diplomacy like we have never had before. Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh have become points of implosion. And not to mention the declining relationship we have with Pakistan. The fact that even to this day, this country has an acting Finance Minister is proof of how seriously this government takes the economic crisis.
But will all of this help the BJP and their rag-tag alliance come back to power? Let me hazard a prediction which of course I shall be held to. I have a belief (and I was right in 2004 when I said that India Shining was a disaster and that the BJP would lose) that the next General Elections will see the Congress back. With yet another rag-tag alliance but only because I believe the BJP has still not got its act together. They are riddled with internal politics of hatred; they are a divided lot and even though Advani is a fine man, I do not believe the BJP will come back. Not because the Congress has been exceptional but only because the average India is tired of voting on the plank of hatred and this whole Hindutva thing is now old hat. People want development. They want water more than they want Ram. They want offices to work in rather than temples to pray in.
They want unifiers and not those who will divide. So don’t be too surprised if you see the familiar blue turbaned head delivering a mild speech this coming August 15 from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi. I wager, the Congress is back and that Manmohan Singh will be India’s next Prime Minister.