The Wind has Changed

The out­come of state elec­tions in In­dia should serve as a warn­ing bell for the cen­tral gov­ern­ment in Delhi.

Southasia - - Region - By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

The re­cently held elec­tions in the five In­dian states of Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Ker­ala, Assam and West Ben­gal could have wider im­pli­ca­tions on the polity and pol­icy-mak­ing of the In­dian gov­ern­ment. Though, it looks as if the Congress and its al­liance part­ners have se­cured vic­tory in these elec­tions yet a deeper anal­y­sis of the polls would sug­gest that they are a warn­ing sign for the UPA gov­ern­ment to get back to the ba­sics which it has re­peat­edly ig­nored since it re­turned to power in May 2009.

When the United Pro­gres­sive Al­liance (UPA) first came to power in May 2004, af­ter it de­feated the Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance (NDA), the first task be­fore the gov­ern­ment was to re­turn to pro-poor poli­cies, as it was felt that the NDA had lost power be­cause of its ter­ri­ble anti-poor poli­cies as well as the com­mu­nal dis­tur­bances of Gu­jarat which had shaken the con­fi­dence of the nation. The NDA, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party did not take any ac­tion against the usu­ally ar­ro­gant chief min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi whose al­leged in­volve­ment in the anti-Mus­lim dis­tur­bances in Gu­jarat are still be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the Cen­tral agen­cies as well as the Supreme Court of In­dia. Hence, when the UPA came to power and So­nia Gandhi ac­tu­ally ap­pointed Dr. Man­mo­han Singh as Prime Min­is­ter of In­dia, there was tremen­dous good­will for the Congress Party.

True to its prom­ises, the gov­ern­ment formed a Na­tional Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil (NAC) com­pris­ing civil so­ci­ety ac­tivists, for­mer bu­reau­crats and jour­nal­ists, etc. to ad­vise the gov­ern­ment on im­por­tant pol­icy de­ci­sions. Many in the gov­ern­ment had at that time ac­tu­ally ques­tioned the le­gal­ity of such a body but it was ba­si­cally the Congress Party’s ef­fort to con­trol the gov­ern­ment and guide it. The NAC be­came im­por­tant and pow­er­ful as it was headed by Mrs. So­nia Gandhi, the pres­i­dent of the Congress Party, so the sug­ges­tions and ideas pro­vided by it were taken se­ri­ously by the gov­ern­ment, min­is­ters and bu­reau­crats.

The re­sult was ex­tra­or­di­nary as the gov­ern­ment brought some of the most land­mark leg­is­la­tions such as Na­tional Ru­ral Em­ploy­ment Guar­an­tee Scheme (NREGA) which guaran- tees a min­i­mum of one hun­dred days work to ru­ral job­less work­ers at the min­i­mum wage pre­scribed by the lo­cal state. It cre­ated a lot of good­will de­spite many fail­ures as they were more sys­tem­atic and needed to be re­sponded to. The sec­ond im­por­tant land­mark dur­ing the first ten­ure of UPA was ‘The Right to In­for­ma­tion’ law which to­day has be­come the big­gest headache for politi­cians as well as cor­rupt bu­reau­crats. Due to this good­will, the UPA re­turned to power in May 2009 with an in­creased ma­jor­ity, mak­ing the Congress Party more pow­er­ful at the cen­tre in the past two decades. The NDA was shat­tered and was with­out any pow­er­ful leader and agenda. The Congress Party re­al­ized this and be­came un­con­trol­lable. In the pre­vi­ous term, the left par­ties were al­lies of the Congress party and were ac­tu­ally putting a lot of pres­sure on cer­tain poli­cies that they felt went against the com­mon man’s in­ter­est. Un­for­tu­nately, the left’s with­drawal of sup­port for the nu­clear bill from the gov­ern­ment and later their de­feat in the sub­se­quent elec­tions ac­tu­ally strength­ened the pro cor­po­rate, pro Amer­i­can lobby within the Congress party. It went on a spree of land ac­qui­si­tion in the coun­try. A large num­ber of Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones were cre­ated in dif­fer­ent states ig­nor­ing the vi­o­lent protests of the lo­cal peo­ple. Land

Sev­eral re­gional and na­tional po­lit­i­cal par­ties come to the

fore­front dur­ing ev­ery elec­tion cy­cle in In­dia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.