Indian Electoral Verdict Gives Primacy
to Economic Security over National Security
India's electoral verdict this weekend has given a convincing verdict in favor of the Congress Party. In the absence of any political wave noticeable during the election campaign and thereafter the victory cannot be realistically attributed as endorsement of Congress Party's policies and the record of governance of the last five years. While political pundits of all hues and shades will give many spins in favor and against the verdict, this Columnist sees this surprising verdict differently especially when the overwhelming majority in the media analyzed that a fractured mandate was in the offing. This Columnist would like to read this surprising verdict for all as the Indian people expressing their preference for giving primacy to economic security over national security in these testing times.
In my view the underlying theme of the election campaign of the two major parties centered on economic security and national security. The Congress Party drummed its achievements on its economic policies and schemes. The BJP focused on national security issues and the tardy manner in which the Congress Party followed a flawed counter-terrorism policy determined by its vote-bank politics. Any impartial observer would concede that the record of the Congress Party on combating national security issues was dismal. In fact national security and foreign policies stood abdicated by the Congress Party from July 2005 onwards with Dr Manmohan Singh's total obsession with the Indo-US Nuclear Deal.
If that be so then why did the Indian electorate voted in the Congress Party despite the dismal record of endangering India's security? In terms of economic policies there is not much difference in outlook between the Congress Party and the BJP and there was not much of a choice. Since economic security in terms of jobs and cutbacks against the backdrop of the global recession was uppermost in the minds of the electorate, the Indian electorate naturally in terms of exercising their choice gravitated towards the Congress Party. In an uncertain financial environment the Congress Party provided a certainty and more importantly a continuity of economic policies that would sustain the earlier annual growth rates of economic growth.
What reinforced this preference was the growing number of young voters whose jobs and job security depended on India's economic growth. Here the incumbency factor worked in favor of the Congress Party to project its economic achievements in office while the BJP could only provide references of its economic track record five years ago. I n the minds of the young electorate the former factor worked in favor of the Congress Party.
Another factor so far not touched or analyzed in the Indian print and electronic media was the block transference of the Indian Muslim vote-banks of the Fourth Front political parties to the Congress Party all over. The Indian Muslim vote-banks somehow felt more secure in transferring their predominant allegiance from the likes of Laloo Yadav, Mulayam Sigh Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan, and even Ms Mayawati to the Congress Party. This may also be attributable to the wholesale formulation of pro- Indian Muslim policies in the last five years by the Congress Party.
The next question that needs to be addressed is as to why this convincing lead was given by the Indian electorate to the Congress Party in the absence of a discernible wave in favor of it? Two points come to the mind on this question. The first was that the Indian electorate was fed up with the blackmailing tactics of junior coalition partners in the last five years especially over economic and development issues arresting speedy economic growth. This sentiment when linked with the Indian electorate's preference for economic security in present times presumably spurred them to give a convincing mandate to the Congress Party for reasons analyzed earlier in the Column.
While economic security can be read as a natural urge in present times the complete obliviousness of the India n electorate to the dismal national security record of the incumbent Government is not a healthy sign for the Indian Republic. Buoyed by an electoral mandate that forgave the incumbent Government's failures on the national security front there is a lurking danger that once again in the next five years India's national security would be given a go by in preference for populist policies to please the Indian electorate.
The next five years politically could be surprising ones for India if the Congress Party swayed by the bestowal made on it by the Indian electorate repeats political arrogance as done in an earlier such mandate given in the mid-1980s was squandered by it.
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Dr. Subhash Kapila
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