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India's Disturbing Political Environment
|by Dr. Subhash Kapila|
India's political environment from one end of the spectrum to the other is not only dismal but disturbing as the existing picture that it presents to the world politically casts doubts on India's potential to emerge as a global power in this century. India's democratic experiment may have been a big success and democracy has taken firm roots unlike India's neighborhood. This presumably arises from the contributions of India's founding fathers of all political hues with no contributions from the existing generation of India's political leaders and less than admirable class of politicians. The contempt in which India's present political leaders and the politicians as a breed are held by the Indian public manifested itself vividly in the wake of Mumbai 9/11. It still continues to haunt all right-thinking Indians as manifested in e-mails that many readers send to this Columnist. India's economic resurgence is not an index of its political health, and as I have constantly maintained that India's economic resurgence has taken place despite poor governance and corruption resting on a solid middle core of the average Indian and his will to succeed.
In Indians of the age group of 25-35 years there is a sense of loss as to how can India throw up a bold, nationalistic, and charismatic political leader who can lead India towards its 'manifest destiny' as the present crop of the young 'poster boys' entrants from various political parties to Parliament have got in not on the strength of personal and proven political merit but by the sheer divine luck and accident of their birth in political families.
The Congress Party as the present ruling party and the party that has ruled India for the longest years continues to exist as a dynastic party with no inner party democracy. The average Congress politician would be rudderless and at a loss as to how to swim in India's turbulent political sea. Without the stern commands from 10 Janpath which holds them together opportunistically, the Congress politicians would be tearing at each others throats. It is sickening to witness how Congress leaders from the Prime Minister downwards fawn over the scion of the dynasty. The young 'poster boys' MPs of the Congress Party are conscious that they cannot rise up to the apex level as that is reserved for the dynastic heirs, except as 'gap fillers'. They too like their fathers in the past fawn over the dynasty in every fifth word that they utter.
India's main opposition party, the 'party with a difference' has committed political suicide as noted in my last Column. Even with a wholesale change of the present top leadership and restructuring of the party machine, the BJP seems to be condemned to some more years in the political wilderness. The present infighting and power struggle within the BJP is reminiscent of the Congress Party before its split by Indira Gandhi.. Unless of course like one of those magical moments in history, the BJP throws up an unlikely hero standing unnoticed in the shadows and who can not only 'ignite' the BJP but also can 'ignite' India to surge forward towards greatness.
India's Left end of the political spectrum has a couple of intelligent and vibrant political leaders but except for West Bengal and Kerala no mass political base exists which can provide a springboard for a political leap. Further, the Communist ideology has no attraction for the upwardly mobile young generation of Indians. The CPI(M)'s leaning towards China also repels a large number of Indians who perceive China as India's main military threat.
India's political space other than that occupied by the three groups above is filled up with a motley crowd of regional parties who have thrived so far on the strength of their 'bargaining quotient' for assisting in cobbling up unreliable political coalitions for capturing power in New Delhi. These political parties are organized on castes, classes and linguistic basis and are not attuned to contemporary India or its aspirations. Their political leaders lack an all-India base of support and also lack political charisma to forge one.
What has been the net effect of this dismal political environment? With a disorganized and fractured Indian political system the ruling Congress Party has been oblivious to the sky-rocketing prices of essential commodities prices affecting the subsistence of the 'Aam Admi' The first 199days of the second tenure of the Congress Government has been a washout. The main opposition party the BJP which should have spearheaded the campaign against the Government on this issue lies impaled on its own spearhead.
So where does India go from here? India's future lies in the hands of the politically self-disempowered Great Indian Middle Class who even in the last General Elections despite many campaigns exhorting them to go out and vote on election day failed to do so.
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