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Thursday, 20 March 2014

INDIA-2014

INDIA-2014

The most important event for India in 2014, why, maybe for many more years to come, will be the General Elections to Parliament. Whatever may be the outcome, the results will have a deeper and far-reaching impact on the Indian polity, far more than the past elections had.

The schedule has been announced and all the results are expected by May 16th.

Political Parties are busy forming and dismantling alliances. Permutations and combinations are still evolving. It may take a few more days for a clear picture to emerge.

Poll Predictions

The BJP / NDA is projected by many, to come back to power under the leadership of Mr. Narendra Modi. The Indian National Congress/UPA is perceived to lose heavily. There is also talk of a Modi wave in some media.

Nevertheless, it is not as simple as that, as being pointed out by many impartial observers. The opinion polls in the Indian context were widely off the mark on more than one occasion in the past.

The New Phenomena, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)

A new phenomenon, the Aam Aadmi Party has emerged at the National level, making the outcome somewhat unpredictable. Though it is expected to occupy the space of the opposition in the short run, its inclination to take on the Main contender Modi head on, makes the poll prediction all the more tricky. The situation is therefore being one of wait and watch.

BJP and INC

The major two parties, i.e. INC and BJP have nothing to differentiate themselves as far as economic policies, governance, or foreign policy matters are concerned. There may be differences in emphasis here and there. However, it is the communal plank, that differentiates BJP from INC.

The BJP has scored many propaganda points over INC. In that, it has succeeded in diverting the focus of the debate, away from its communal politics, to UPA's corruption, and the so-called Gujarat Model of development. The BJP's inclination to retain all its corrupt leaders in its ranks, and the fact that it is not averse in striking a deal with political parties which have known track record of corruption, does not bother the BJP backers. Its Gujarat model, has been questioned with facts and figures by many independent observers. However, BJP, and a good section of media, never bothered to answer those points. Instead, it relies solely on the anti-corruption sentiment amongst the middle class created by the 2G scam, and other scandals. The Anti-Corruption movement undertaken by Anna Hazare, has been in fact hijacked by communal forces lately, which provided the base for the 'emergence' of Modi.

Impact of Liberalisation Policies

The liberalisation policies, initiated by Narasimha Rao govt were faithfully followed or followed with more vigour by the subsequent NDA govt under Vajpayee. The UPA I&II have also followed the policies. Unfortunately for the UPA, the success in terms of growth rate and passage of certain socially important measures by the UPA I, could not be continued during the second term. The recession in the West, the scams that rocked the govt, and the disruption of the working of the Parliament, the interference of Constitutional agencies-all contributed to the decline of governance and policy paralysis at various levels.

Congress has to Take the Responsibility

It may be true that as claimed by the PM, the growth rate during the 9-year UPA I and II were the highest, while compared to any 9-year period in Independent India. This may be a good point that may be useful in the debates. However, the fact remains that India, in the past 67 years, could not solve the basic problems confronting the People and the Nation. INC, being the political party that ruled most of these years could not escape its responsibility for the sorry state of affairs.

Why this Sad State of Affairs

India, on attaining Independence, started to develop its economy on capitalist lines, without dismantling the feudal system and its associated structures like caste. The leadership of the Congress, has to compromise with the feudal system, because of the fact that many of the Congress leaders themselves were and are big landlords. As a result, the Political leadership in India has very limited elbow room for introducing the much-required land reforms, which would have unleashed the purchasing power of the millions and would have a positive cascading effect on the economy.

Until the late 80s, India was following a public sector oriented economic approach, may be influenced by the Soviet Union. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of China, which has initiated reforms from 1981 onwards under the leadership of Deng, and the balance of payment crisis India faced during Chandrasekhar's regime, India has no other choice than to initiate reforms. It sets out on the path of reforms from 1991, of course, within the limitations set by the landlord-capitalist systems.

Economic Reforms have Wide Acceptance Today

Though the reforms have had many opponents initially, not only from the Left but also from sections of the Ruling elites and intellectuals, over a period, it (reforms) has attained a consensus amongst the people and the political parties including the Left.

The Left, though continued to be critical of the reforms, has tried to implement its own version of it in West Bengal in its own way and in the process got isolated from the people.The reasons for their failure may be many. But the fact remains, that a CPI (M) delegation visited China in 2006, to study the reform process and economic restructuring going on there. It was following this visit, a decision was taken in the Central Committee of the CPI (M), to introduce reforms in WB.

Even earlier, Jyoti Basu visited London to canvass for investment in WB. The point is that there is broad consensus amongst political parties in carrying out the reforms, notwithstanding the occasional protests on issues like FDI in retail etc...

Left is left out of reckoning now

The situation prevailing in India is ideal for an alternative to emerge. The vast millions of people who are  already groaning and suffering from various economic hardships, are being daily tortured at various levels of administration, by corruption and associated evils. The Left, which was expected to play the alternative politics and bring some relief to the people, itself now stands isolated and discredited.

The long 34 years of rule Left Front had got at its disposal, did not result in any role model for the people to imbibe or emulate. Instead, its guilty of all the allegations normally laid at the doorsteps of a Ruling Class party. Corruption, suppression of dissent, rigging in elections, and above all arrogance are some of the accusations that the Left is facing today. The TMC, that has replaced the Left has by its actions appears to have alienated quite a lot of democratic minded people. Nevertheless, this alienation, has not in any way, appeared to have resulted in any winning back of people by the Left, as is revealed in the subsequent elections and some opinion polls.

Will AAP hold the key to the Future..?

It is in this context one has to see the emergence and the importance of the Aam Aadmi Party. It appears to have occupied a space, which the Left was expected to occupy, but left vacant. There may be any number of criticisms on the style and functioning of AAP. However, no one can question its intentions. A look at the list of candidates so far announced by AAP from different States, its decision not to have any opportunistic alliances, the open method of collection of funds, above all the readiness to take on the high and mighty, make it clear that it means business.

It is true that they have not yet finalised their Party's Programme or Manifesto. In addition, there are many disparate groups and voices in it. A churning process is inevitable, and the outcome may be a stronger AAP, provided, the leadership stay on course. Moreover, there are many aspects that certainly requires improvement. However, it must be understood that AAP is a movement and there is scope for more than one view to be accommodated.

Let us hope that Elections 2014 will show a New Path for the country, that will enable India to show its true potential!















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