If a week is supposed to be a long time in politics, the eighteen months till the scheduled date of the next general elections in 2014 is an eternity.
This is the reality that the Opposition parties, which are huffing and puffing to blow the UPA-2 house down, must contend with.
are also the months that offer the possibility of redemption for the
Congress-led alliance which has wasted three long years through its
policy of masterly inactivity and finally decided to act. Alliance In
politics, as in theatre, timing is everything.
may argue that the UPA2 should have acted earlier and that they struck
back only when their backs were to the wall. In the end, whether by
design or accident, they acted at the right time.
them to have taken these measures last year at the height of the
anti-corruption movement, and on the eve of important state assembly
polls, would have been foolhardy.
Likewise, this year they needed to hold their fire till the presidential and vice-presidential elections were out of the way.
Finally they acted when the anti-corruption movement had reached its
nadir, no significant state assembly poll (barring Gujarat where the
Congress tally has only one way to go, up) and the haemorrhaging fuel
costs had reached a point where the country's credit rating would get
UPA now has time. The question is whether it can use this time
effectively, or squander it as it did in the last three years.
of now the coalition has been smart to front-load reform measures that
were being opposed tooth and nail by the Opposition-FDI in retail,
broadcasting, aviation, an increase in diesel prices, an effort to cap
the LPG subsidy.
has been followed in rapid- fire movement by Chidambaram's signal that
the taxation regime will once again become investor friendly and that
the government would now begin moving on its disinvestment agenda.
The government knows that issues like banking or insurance reform is
less likely to be taken up because they require a change in the current
law and the balance of power in Parliament, especially the Upper House,
is not a comfortable one for UPA2.
months are clearly not enough to get the economy on the high growth
path howsoever urgently the government acts. This is especially since
the external situation remains dismal.
is still teetering on the brink and the American economy remains
anaemic. Oil prices continue to remain high and inflation is still a
concern enough to ensure that the RBI is not lowering the interest
matters is that the UPA has at least revealed a blueprint for the kind
of India it wants and more important seems determined at last to act on
that blueprint instead of merely waving it around.
The Opposition, on the other hand, has no blueprint or scheme; it just seems to revel in negativism.
The BJP, the party that strongly supported FDI, the Indo-US nuclear
deal and disinvestment when it led the then ruling National Democratic
Alliance coalition has become a bitter opponent of all three policies.
No one knows what the party stands for today. All we hear from its
leaders is an endless tirade against the Congress and the UPA. Come
election time, voters are unlikely to be impressed by this.
will want to know what the BJP is all about, and that is being
carefully obfuscated to prevent us from realising that the party's
leadership and its ideology are in disarray.
By now it is clear that the UPA 2 ship remains steady; the decision of
the Trinamool Congress to walk out has, ironically, assisted this
process. By remaining within, the 19-member group by itself was capable
of capsizing the boat.
experience between the defenestration of Dinesh Trivedi as railway
minister and that of the protest against the price rise of diesel and
the introduction of FDI in retail would have been sufficient to convince
even the most optimist of people, that Mamata's exit was a matter of
politics of India is now at an interesting new phase where a collection
of regional and caste-based parties sense opportunity to move ahead,
while the three major national formations-here we include the Left in
the category- seek to retain their clout.
The problem with these regional and caste formations is that their traction is limited.
Ask Mayawati. She has tried more than anyone else has to enhance the footprint of the Bahujan Samaj Party across the nation.
wisdom would have suggested that she would succeed since Dalits are a
pan-Indian phenomenon, and the BSP is well-funded and has a leader who
has developed a national presence.
But the BSP has failed to make headway. In a more desultory way, the
Trinamool is playing the same game. The SP has managed some voter
support in distant Mumbai, based on migrants, but that's all.
The Janata Dal (United) may hearken to the old Janata party, but it is
in essence a Bihari formation and likely to remain that way. As for the
Dravidians, their appeal remains confined to the lands between Tirupati
have a slew of leaders who are likely to win 20,30, 50 seats and they
are all hoping to be crowned king, or be the kingmaker. And this is what
is really adding turbulence to the Indian political system.
is little to be gained by celebrating these petty satraps. This vast
and divergent India needs a leadership which is able to deal with issues
on a national basis and perspective.
two formations are in that game. But where one seems to have gotten
lost in some modern chakravyuh (maze), the other is at least, and at
last, making an effort.
Mail Today September 24, 2012