With the Lok Sabha elections announced for next month, the political arena is heating up as each moment passes and frankly, all that has resulted is a mesh of accusations, assumptions, inane policy predictions and the unique “I may not be right but he is wrong” culture seen only in Indian politics. If you don’t believe me, just look at the options you have in front of you and you’ll be left flummoxed.
First, we have Mr. Modi, incumbent chief minister of Gujarat and the Prime Ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party who to his credit has the state of Gujarat to showcase, having run the state for 12 years straight now, loosely based on the ideals of the economist Bhagwati. Charismatic and a powerful orator who connects easily with the grass root voters of the country, Modi has his own anchors pulling him down. These include, but are not limited to the Godhra riots and the Ishrat Jahan case. Now I am sure that there are those amongst you who on reading the above statement begun shouting, “Modi bhai ko SIT ne clean chit diya.” The very fact that members of his Council of Ministers were indicted for crimes (for those who are unaware, I refer to the infamous conviction of Maya Kodnani), is enough to suggest his compliance in the acts. I refuse to believe that he had no idea what they were doing or that he had not authorised those actions. Moreover, if it is true that the massacre happened without him giving the go ahead for these horrendous actions, I have reservations making him the leader of our nation. A man who cannot control his own cabinet at the state level should absolutely not be allowed to take charge at the national level.
Moving on to our second candidate, the scion of the Gandhi family, or as he calls himself, “the outsider to the system who was forced into politics”, Rahul Gandhi. He has been a member of the Lok Sabha from the constituency of Amethi since 2004 and has held important posts in the Indian National Congress (INC), with his recent elevation to Vice-President being a key indicator to his importance in the upcoming elections. Although the INC has not declared him to be the official Prime Ministerial candidate (they choose to stick behind a new argument the party deems appropriate – a political party is no one to announce a PM candidate, the elected MPs shall wisely and democratically choose one. A nice argument which holds up in theory but clearly fails in practical application), many senior members of the party have already declared that they would be happy to see him as the PM. Considering the announcement by our incumbent Dr. Manmohan Singh deciding not to run for his position in the upcoming term, indicators point towards Rahul Gandhi leading the nation if the Congress and its allies come to power. Now here is the major problem which troubles me. A few months ago, I researched our honourable MP and came up with some startling statistics. Apart from being a member of the Lok Sabha, he has no major victory to his credit. He has not held a berth in the Council of Ministers. He has a shabby record of 41% attendance when compared to the average of 77% attendance put in by our legislators. He has barely asked any questions during the UPA-II term i.e. 2009-present. In fact, this is a polite understatement as the number stands at zero compared to an average of 235 per lawmaker. This coupled with his recent interview with the nation’s second PM (Arnab Goswami, of course) where he spoke about his views on everything except women empowerment and how the Congress brought in RTI (or was it the other way around?) results in a worrisome situation for our nation if he is chosen to lead the nation. I give him that he seems earnest and innocent but he seems to forget that it is his own party that he badly needs to fix to gain the good side of the populace.
The third choice for the nation is the ex-Chief Minister of Delhi, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal. With a vow to contest over 300 seats, the Aam Aadmi Party is now a reasonable contender in what now seems to be a Fatal Four-way. Using an anti-corruption motto as their ideal, the AAP started off as the underdog but the acts of their government in the short 49 day stint have been brought under question, especially by a major segment of the ‘middle class’, one of their targeted vote banks. It would be interesting to see how Mr. Kejriwal and his party fare in the next Lok Sabha. We may look forward to all-night-dharnas in the Parliament well.
The next and probably the last available alternative is the recently announced ‘federal front’ which consists of regional political parties such as SP, JD(U), JD(S), AIADMK and the Left. A motley gang of big-shots in individual states, this alliance currently commands a respectable number of seats in the Parliament and thus forms a clear alternative. However the issue becomes clear when we consider the Cabinet and the Prime Ministerial crown itself. Each party stalwart has professed ambitions for the top post but given the fact that it is a position which can only be held by one of them, choosing numero uno would be a mess. It is not that we haven’t seen this in the past. Each federal front government has collapsed without completing its term, and frankly, stability is something this country needs in its governance.
So where does this leave us? Each option has its own pros and cons, but at the end of the day the decision we have to make is far more monumental than choosing from a list on a yellow legal pad. One may argue that choosing an option with maximum pros and minimum cons will be a brilliant solution. But this leaves us in a scenario where the elected head of the government is someone whom we is merely the ‘best of the worst’ while a far more desirable result remains unattainable. 2014 is going to be a major test for this nation. I end this article by repeating something that a previous article emphasized on. Whatever you do, please do vote. It matters, it counts.