Indian Elections: Verdict 2014
Col (Retd) Bhaskar Sarkar VSM
The much hyped Modi wave (or shall we call it a Tsunami?) has proved to be a reality. The Tsunami has swept away a decadent, arrogant, corrupt Congress party. No tears will be shed for arrogant and corrupt leaders like Kapil Sibal, Sivprakash Jaswal, Praveen Bansal, Naveen Jhindal, Beni Prasad Yadav, Dayanidhi Maran, A Raja etc. The Tsunami has cut Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, JD(U) down to size and hopefully liberated Indian politics from caste and religious considerations and vote bank politics. It may have changed the way politics is practiced in our country. It is only fair that we give the devil his due. I congratulate Mr. Modi and his support organizations for their wonderful and unprecedented achievement.
The Congress Party
Contrary to popular belief, I think that except during early period of rule of Indira Gandhi, the Congress Party has been run by power brokers like the “Syndicate” in the name of the Gandhis. Indira Gandhi destroyed the Syndicate but create her own power brokers. Rajeev Gandhi was controlled by his mother’s power brokers who prevented Mr. Clean from tackling corruption, nepotism and crony capitalism which started and flourished under Nehru. Rajeev and Sonia Gandhi, in spite of their Aam Admi orientation (Rajeev started Panchayeti Raj and devolution of power and Sonia brought in MGNREGA, Right to Forest Produce Act, RTI Act) have not been able to reign in corruption. Most of the money meant to alleviate the hardship of the common man was siphoned off by the power brokers and government servants and only 20 to 25 % reached the targeted beneficiaries. Congress has paid the price for their benign tolerance of corruption and has become a joke. They got only 2 out of 80 in UP and MP and failed to open its account in five states. Hopefully Congress Party and its power brokers and wheeler dealers will remain powerless for the next 10 to 15 years.
The caste and religion oriented parties SP, BSP, RLD and JD(U) have been decimated. DMK, BSP and RLD have not won a single seat and I pray it remains that way for ever. However AIDMK in Tamil Nadu, TMC in Bengal and BJD in Orissa have held the Modi Tsunami at bay. They will remain a power to recon with as long as they have the confidence of their electorate and preserve our federal constitution.
The left parties like the RSS are unwilling to adapt to changing social realities and stick to their out dated ideologies. RSS ideology still has a fair degree of support. The left has almost no support outside Kerala and Tripura. It could win only one seat in West Bengal, a state they misruled for over 35 years.
Aam Admi Party
They are the babes in the game. They have a great ideology and a charismatic leader in Arvind Kejriwal. They promised much after their impressive showing in the Delhi state elections but failed to deliver in the Lok Sabha Elections. However, in Delhi and Punjab, they have emerged as the real opposition to NDA. I hope some of their egoist leaders have been chastened and that they have learned from their mistakes. Their performance has been disappointing for their supporters but BJP started with 2 seats in 1984 and came to power in 1998 (14 years). AAP has started with 4. I expect it to be a force to recon with in 5 years and a contender for power in 10.
India is different from most of the developed and developing nation because our electoral system with many left oriented parties is more democratic than most. In the developed countries like the US the percentage rich and middle class who vote are more than the poor who vote. In India it is the poor and middle class who vote. Our voter turnout cannot be matched by any other country. Hence, in India, the government has to do more for the struggling majority to win elections. Europe and the US and BRICKs countries like Brazil, China, South Africa have long abandoned the poor and youth and forced them to eke out a miserable existence in slums and rural areas. I am glad that our electoral system forces leaders to provide for the struggling majority and our federal structure ensures that no central government can dominate the entire country.
Decisive leadership is necessary in the economic policy field. First of all we need to decide whether we are going to remain a socialist welfare state with a strong public sector to compete with the private and keep our focus on upliftment of the struggling majority or we are going to follow the neo-liberal market oriented policies of the West which empower investors and corporations and weaken governments. Then there is always a middle path which has to be discovered and defined. Decisiveness is necessary to go after tax cheats and black money, against corporate fraud and profiteering.
Decisive leadership is necessary in many spheres other than the economy. Decisiveness is necessary to deal with various kinds of mafia (real estate mafia, illegal mining mafia, petroleum product adulterating mafia, public distribution system controlling mafia and so on). Decisiveness is necessary in dealing with corruption and inefficiencies in government departments, in defense preparedness, foreign policy, setting plan targets and dealing with MNCs. A degree of decentralization to ministries with checks and balances is necessary for speedy development.
I feel that a strong feeling of nationalism is necessary in our leadership to deal with an exploitative world. The US has fined Credit Swiss Bank $2.6 Billion for helping US citizen avoid tax. Will we do the same to foreign banks in India who are doing the same in India in the name of wealth management? We need some one who will. If EU bans our mangoes, why should we not do the same for olive oil and other EU agricultural products? After all horse meat was found in beef products in EU. See how China is trying to cow down Vietnam and Philippines into letting them lord over the South China Sea and Parcel Islands. It could be our turn next
BJP has won a land slide victory. Rajeev Gandhi did the same in 1984 but could do nothing beyond what power brokers allowed him to. Who knows if Modi will be able to follow a development agenda or will be pushed by RSS on a different path? All we can do is to watch what happens in the next 5 years and then decide how we vote.
I end by wishing Mr. Modi and his team the very best and hope that he will take India and its struggling majority to a new era of peace and prosperity.