O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Monday, 21 May 2007 00:00

Like every election, recently concluded Uttar Pradesh assembly election might well go as just another lost cause for Congress. The “lessons to be learnt” based on post-election analysis are only for the media to ponder over. Congress appears to be never really interested in analysing its own short comings in terms of reaching out to people and getting the message across. Given the number of talented MP’s and MLA’s at its disposal, it seems that the Congress party easily attracts lots of youth adherent to secular principles. Yet, they never really exploit the human capital in terms of reaching out to the masses with their ideas of administration. Recently one of the leading Indian News magazines, Outlook, questioned: “The Rahul Problem” - He can't plough a lonely furrow. Where are the party's other young MPs?” ( National \ Opinion : Magazine May 28, 2007, OPINION: The Rahul Problem by Vinod Mehta)

It goes further to state: "What does the Congress have that other parties do not? It owns five, if not more, new-generation MPs who have the potential to connect with the 70 per cent of India aged under 30. If they teamed up under the leadership of Rahul (so that he is the first among equals) and criss-crossed the country carrying the message of modernity and development, the impact would be dramatic. Imagine the effect of Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Milind Deora, Jitin Prasada and Rahul Gandhi on one platform! The party would then hold an extraordinary bunch working collectively instead of Rahul ploughing a lonely furrow".

And that's my point precisely. Why can’t young and upcoming talent travel the length and breadth of the country and get a first-hand feed back on policies of their respective parties? It is also the only way to build bridges between communities, which are strained under the tidal wave of communalism being spread by distructive forces. It is high time that Indian political parties behave like they are a public organisation and not running a family business. The democratic values should be first practised by the parties who preach them. Let all the positions and portfolios both within the Government and party circles be filled by men and women of merit so that people represented by these leaders have a direct influence on India’s growth and prosperity.

 

The Elephant Riders

Thursday, 17 May 2007 00:00

The recently held Assembly elections in UP, India’s most populous state evokes mixed emotions. There are reasons for elations and enough room for concern. On the one hand, the clear majority for Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) means that at least this time the government could last for the full term of 5 years, a rarity these days owing to coalitions or power sharing. However, given the uncertainties of Indian politics, this aspiration could easily turn to blind optimism. The reason being, once elected, the parties disregard their manifesto and ideologies and often infer the mandate as per their convenience. Indeed, it is a momentous victory for a party representative of dalits, although this time, BSP supremo Mayawati, has broadened her appeal to include candidates from upper castes and Muslims. The greatest significance of this victory, however, should be labelled as victory of secularism. The fact that a secular party got clear mandate suggest that one cannot fool the electorate anymore with false propaganda and divisive politics even in the Hindu heartland of UP. However, more than the battle of ideologies, the mandate for a single party may have been a simple consequence of the yearning for the speedy development - minus corruption- in this region.

Once the euphoria of a trendsetting election victory wanes, there will surely be wrangling and haggling for important portfolios within BSP. And given that the party has many a non dalit candidates, other parties who are preying for power could entice them with the lure of power and position. Given the record of previous administrations in UP it is not a far fetched idea. Ms. Mayawati herself would be too aware of this fact to wield absolute power and cause defection of her party men. Even if this Government survives all the trappings of the opposition, one hopes that the administration works towards public development and do not succumb to corruption. After all it wasn’t that long back when Mayawati celebrated her birthday with all pomp back in 2003, probably at the expense of tax payer. Now that the elephant- the symbol of BSP- is back in power, one hopes it doesn’t fatten up and damage its short sight and renowned memory.

 

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