Looking ahead at the 2014 elections

With 2014 just round the corner and the Lok Sabha elections looming on the horizon, it appears that we have three potential outcomes ahead of us. One, the UPA could return to power. Two, the NDA could come to power. Three, there could be a coalition government with a hotchpotch of regional parties supported by the BJP or the Congress. All three of these options have been tried and tested in the past. Been there, seen it. Not surprisingly, all of them have similar shortcomings. None have any form of intra-party democracy whatsoever, all of them have hordes of corruption charges against their key members, all of them routinely give tickets to people with criminal records, none of them believe in having a transparent candidate selection process, and all their election campaigns are funded by black money. When it comes to bringing political parties under the ambit of RTI, not surprisingly, they are all unanimous in their opposition.

Let’s look at the leadership of the three potential alternatives. The recent ordinance saga is a perfect demonstration of UPA’s style of functioning. After weeks of internal deliberation and all-party meetings, the PM and his illustrious cabinet decide on an ordinance to aid criminals in politics. After mounting public criticism of the ordinance, Rahul Gandhi barges in at the eleventh hour and plays savior. It also proves that the current crop of UPA ministers, including the PM, are power hungry opportunists lacking even an iota of self-respect. Perhaps Rahul Gandhi is a little slow on the uptake and hence always a late entrant. He performed a similar “gig” on the Lokpal issue two years after the Lokpal battle was raging, with a speech in Parliament calling for Lokpal to be made an independent constitutional body. Of course, his rhetoric remained rhetoric and he did nothing to drive his party towards an acceptable Lokpal bill. There is little doubt that the Gandhis hold the real power in the UPA with no accountability whatsoever.  How long is the country going to tolerate this arrangement?

As for the BJP, we have Mr. Modi who has been anointed their PM candidate. Many of his fans believe that he is his own man. “When you vote for Modi, you get Modi and not the BJP,” they profess. “He has transformed Gujarat. He is not corrupt. He is a terrific administrator. India will develop under his leadership.” His fans can go on and on… They dream of a Modi-wave sweeping the country, though the BJP is now for the most part just a party restricted to the Hindi-belt.

Click here to read the rest of the article in The Economic Times