Sunday, April 28, 2013

India 2014: Kaun Banega Vijeta?

The country is in count down mode to the annual democratic mela called the colorful loud Indian Election. The obvious choice seems to between two of the main formations UPA vs NDA and the logic of anti-incumbency points to advantage NDA. But is it all that simple? Obviously not, or else no reason to blog.

We have an UPAII run by a caretaker PM who appeared to be in charge at the beginning of his term, five years ago seemingly running a comfortable majority government. A regime beset by massive unprecedented corruption, naivety in political management of agitations by civil society and an inability and unwillingness to lead in any form. Besides, this aam aadmi projects like NREGA also in bad shape should mean bad news. However, on the positive side the government has steered the ship in the face of a floundering world economic situation to relative stability. Also no   communal agenda is partially negated by an image of minority appeasement and being soft on terror. An inexperienced naive, untried leader, given the reins purely on the basis of a surname certainly makes UPA, not a great choice.

On the other side is an NDA whose record as an opposition is an image of destructive opportunistic posturing, with a dismal record of disrupting parliament for a record number of days. A formation with many ambitious leaders, a patriarch who is too old, many leaders without mass base, but with only one clever leader with a mass base created on a combination of efficient governance and media manipulation. Is NDA record on corruption better?  Not in most of their governments, definitely not Karnataka but at least in the public eye better in Gujarat. However, even here it is the media manipulation at work, big ticket corruption and selling of the state to corporates is there in Gujarat too. A decisive leader wedded to corporate interests with an image of ruthless dictatorial governance, with scant respect for minorities, makes it a tough choice for the Indian voter.

So does this point to a hung parliament with small formations dictating the ruling formation? I think the Indian electorate has matured since those days and will certainly not vote for uncertainty. I think we need to selectively put into Parliament quality persons who can by sheer stature and name control and exert moral pressure on the ruling formations and keep them on their toes. The intelligentsia and civil society must therefore play their cards well and target tainted and non performing  political leaders. A planned campaign and a non aligned non UPA-NDA group of parliamentarians with unimpeachable impeccable credentials with about 40-50 seats in the Loksabha is ideal. Of the remaining 490 seats an ideal 250/240 or 260/230 divide would be good for the nation. If this leads to instability a formula of national government is provided in our constitution, where parliament can elect a leader of the house, who can form a national government. This can create an exciting new experiment in consensual governance where decisions are made on merit without the shadow of electoral politics.

Utopian, ideal scenario is what most of you will feel I am propagating but the dreamer and eternal optimist in me makes me hope for just such a eventuality.

Vispi Jokhi