Indira Gandhi certainly stands tall amongst all prime ministers as a gutsy nationalist who annexed Sikkim, made India a military power, defeated Pakistan in battle and created Bangladesh. She nationalized banks to stop hoarding and price manipulation by business houses (we are about to allow that again despite cautioning by World Bank), nationalized foreign companies unwilling to established Indian subsidiaries holding 51% stake. Unfortunately, she did not tackle corruption, nepotism, crony capitalism and encouraged sycophancy and dynastic rule. She also amended the constitution to allow defection and brought in “horse trading” to retain political power.
Rajiv Gandhi, “Mr. Clean” failed to reign in corruption, nepotism and crony capitalism. He squandered an 84% majority in the Lok Sabha and failed to bring in any reforms. Narsimha Rao came to power by buying the support of Mr. Shibu Soren. He started neo-liberal capitalism, devalued the currency and ‘sold’ India to western investors.
Less said about Manmohan Singh’s tenure the better. The silent aging prime minister sees no evil and hears no evil. His economic and foreign policies are dictated from Washington. He appears to be trying to win a Nobel Peace prize by bending backwards to bullying by Pakistan and China. He presides over a regime raked by scams, criminalization of politics, sychophancy, nepotism, crony capitalism, breakdown of law and order and unprecedented rise in crimes against women. His policy of unrestricted imports from China and the West has created the highest current account deficit the country has ever seen. And he is set to be replaced by the scion of the Gandhi family, Rahul Gandhi the “Unknown.”
Where is the alternative?
The only other pan Indian party which could have provided an alternate government, the BJP, is in total disarray. On one side is the RSS which wants Hindu Raj. Its leader, Mr. Mohan Bhagwat, wants to see India go back to the male-dominated middle ages where women worked as unpaid labour and sex slaves in the homes. (RSS could not change their dress which was the dress of British India’s police in 1932 in 80 years. How can RSS connect with young India). He cannot accept women leaders like Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje or Uma Bharti as equals and works actively to sabotage them. He insists on RSS “pracharak” Nitin Gadhkari, under whose leadership BJP has lost every election except Goa, and who thinks it fit to make his driver and astrologer directors in his company (no law against it but would Tatas, Ambani or any other business house in the world do a thing like that except to cheat on taxes or do money laundering) to continue as president.
RSS is an organization which has no following outside the states of Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and no following among women and the youth who form the majority of the country. On the other side is the secular BJP with leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Yashwant Sinha to name a few, educated broadminded leaders of men who are acceptable to all sections of India and most regional parties as partners. This secular BJP is the only hope of those who want to see the end of Congress rule. Unless RSS stops interfering with secular BJP and gives it all support it can, BJP will win less seats in 2014 Lok Sabha Elections than it did in 2009.
Congress Party is not led by fools
Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, the Congress President, is a leader of the masses. Many of her initiatives like the “Rights of Tribals to forest land and produce; MNREGA; environmental protection; food security” are people oriented and laudable. Unfortunately, like her husband, she seems to be unable to stem the march of corruption, crony capitalism, nepotism, sychophancy and neo-liberalism. But she is no fool. She realizes that Congress on its own will not win enough seats to form the government after 2014 elections. So she is looking for allies.
NCP, SP and BSP are already with Congress. There is nothing to prevent BJD, JDU, AIDMK, YSR Congress, TRS, JMM, MNS, TMC, CPI and CPM from joining Congress and gaining a share of the pie. In any case they cannot and will not join RSS dominated Hindutva-oriented BJP. Unless BJP can visibly establish that it is secular and not the B team of RSS by fielding Sushma Swaraj for PM and giving seats to Muslim and Christian candidates in the North East and the South like they did in Goa, Congress will continue to rule for ever.
That may not necessarily be a bad thing. What India needs and patriotic Indians want is good governance. We want a government that is responsive to the needs of the ordinary people and not only to the rich and powerful. We want a government that will reign in corruption, criminalization of politics, nepotism, crony capitalism and neo-liberalism. We want police reforms. We want economic and foreign policy that is in the best interest of the country and ensures that we are not economically colonized.
If Congress can provide such a government, why should it not rule India forever? I am ready to have a 100 years of Congress government than five years of Mohan Bhagwat and his RSS, Mulayam Singh or Mayawati.