Credibility In The Time of Chaos

by Praful Shankar

Early signs are that the General Elections of 2014 will be one like no other in recent memory. The criticality of this election and the desperate need for India to escape the deadly vortex of UPA’s decade long misrule cannot be overstated.

For any casual observer of India politics, it would be quite obvious to ascertain that one of the major issues that plagued UPA was that of leadership. DrManmohan Singh occupied the PM’s office but was never in a position to set the agenda for India and lead the Government. The rot of the UPA started with the lack of political credibility of its supposed leader, which led to a chain reaction of party-men and ministers doing and looting as they pleased. When the Indian voter casts his ballot later this summer, it is imperative that he chooses not just an MP or party or even a Government, but also a credible leader with the vision and experience to lead India into the future.

Despite the claims of the Congress and numerous other parties that declaring a PM candidate is not in tune with parliamentary democracies, the hard fact is that politics has never been guided by these blurry ‘ideals’. Parties tend to do what they feel will get them elected. If the declaration of a PM candidate would help them win the elections, they would do so without a moment’s hesitation. This is the exact reason why the Congress did not seem to heed their own advice during the days of Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. This is also, the exact reason, why the buffoonish AamAadmi Party went about sabotaging their own Government in Delhi so that ArvindKerjriwal could be freed up to peddle his lies and rev up chaos across the country.

While the chances of Kejriwal occupying the PM chair after this electionseem remote for the moment, there exists a great hope in the media that the so called Third or Federal Front would gather enough seats to get the Congress to offer outside support, allowing whichever regional satrap who was the flavor of the month to occupy 7 Race Course Road. Among the regional players, the only two with a credible record of governance to speak of would be Naveen Patnaik and J Jayalalithaa. It is to the media’s discredit that most of their attention has been focused on Kejriwal, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Nitish Kumar.

Even the most optimistic of Third Front sympathizers would agree that there is almost no chance that such a formation could give India a stable and functioning government. The Third Front contains parties with spectacularly divergent ideas on governance, economic policy and foreign policy. In addition, most its larger members stand completely discreditedtoday. Mulayam Singh and Nitish Kumar, the great hopes of the New Delhi ‘intellectual’ brigade’just a summer ago, today appear to be what they truly are – remnants of the old socialist era with absolutely nothing to offer the country other than platitudes and slogans.

Then we have the Congress. Despite the reluctance of the Grand Old Party to name Rahul Gandhi as its PM nominee, there isn’t a shred of doubt that should the Congress pull of a miraculous return to power, it will be the Gandhi scion who will lead UPA III. Most of the conversations about Rahul Gandhi have centered around his media interviews and his age, but there are graver matters to be looked into as well. From what can be gathered through his rallies, interviews and speeches, it is more than evident that Rahul Gandhi’s vision for the nation is no different from that of Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi.

A UPA-III led by Rahul Gandhi would be driven by the same socialist policies that have stunted India’s growth for too long and bankrupted the exchequer.The perplexing influence of the jholawala brigade on UPA’s policy formulation has been one of its banes and Rahul Gandhi has seemed to be hell bent on carrying forward that tradition. Irresponsible spending on wasted schemes like NREGA, Food Security et all have destroyed the fiscal health of the country. Almost in tandem, through the re-incarnation of the License Raj in the form of the Environment Ministry, the jholawalas and their friends in the Government have also managed to stall or halt almost every large business project that has been proposed during the last 5 years. Another 5 years of the same would most definitely push India back into the old days, when Nehruvian socialism kept India’s growth stagnant and its potential unfulfilled. Congressmen may look back towards those times with teary-eyed nostalgia but India does not.

The more one analyzes the political landscape today, the more one will realize that one of the best decisions that Rajnath Singh could have taken as the President of the BJP, was to anoint NarendraModi as its Prime Ministerial nominee for the General Election.

The Gujarat Chief Minister today has come to represent the very antithesis of the Congress and its vision for India. Unlike what the media and his opponents (sometimes they are the same) would like to say, the true strength of NarendraModi is not his powerful oratory or the huge crowds he is able to amass at his rallies. Rather, it is his incredible performance as the Chief Minister of Gujarat – where he has demonstrated his capability to rise above the politics of welfare schemes and short terms fixes, and create a positive story of development and delivery that resonates across the country.

He has pursued a vigorous form of pragmatic, developmental politics in his home state – encouraging free enterprise, concentrating on service delivery to common citizens and bringing in modern mechanisms to enhance traditional industry like agriculture. While doing so, he has challenged the political and economic status-quo, shunned the trap of socialist politics that his opponents have peddled for decades and worn his scorn for them on his sleeve. The Congress and Kejriwal can keep harping on selective ‘Human Development Indices’ all they like, but the fact that Modi has won three successive elections in Gujarat should tell them that these arguments have cut no ice with the general public.

Every election is a choice for the electorate and in 2014, despite the diversity of political parties and leaders, the choice for the country has to make is clear. On one side will be a collection of non-performing social engineers, anarchists and dynasts whose idea of India does not go beyond that of their ancestors and on the other side, will be the promise offered by a leader who has proven his mettle for over decade,pursuing an economic and political agenda that has the capacity to unleash India’s infinite potential, which has been kept dormant for so long.

And as they say, choices are the hinges of destiny.

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Praful Shankar

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