After the recent 5 state Indian ‘midterm’ elections, wise political observers believe future prospects are dim for the Congress party and general economic reforms in the world’s largest deMoncracy – INDIA
Following the recent 5 state elections the prestigious London-based ECONOMIST magazine advises “India’s Prime minister-in-waiting Rahul Gandhi to look for a new career”
Washington D.C. Wednesday, March 14, 2012: A vast majority of well informed observers of the political scene in the world’s largest ‘over-populated dystopian demoNcracy’, are generally of the opinion that, after India’s recent equivalent of mid-term elections, (in which an extra 24 million people voted in five states where elections were held) prospects have become dim for the Congress party and general economic reform, in that miserable land – INDIA – where nearly 70% of the population (over 700 million souls), is ‘unwashed’, living in misery and squalor, without clean drinking water, latrines, schools or dispensaries and even shoes, etc., etc.
The London-based ECONOMIST weekly magazine, widely respected for its prescient and wise commentaries for (http://www.economist.com/node/21549954) over a century, in an article in its latest issue (of 10-16 March, 2012), headlined, “India’s state elections; A welcome slap in the face”, has, given some blunt advice to Rahul Gandhi, the 42 years old effeminate, bachelor, under-matric, grandson of that evil incarnate, the late Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi, (who was dispatched to kingdom-come on 31 October, 1984), that, “IF HE had any other surname, Rahul Gandhi, commonly mentioned as ‘a prime minister-in-waiting’, would surely be pondering a new career. His ill-starred record as a political campaigner reached a new low on March 6th, when he accepted the blame for his party’s dreadful showing in assembly elections in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP). In the recent election Congress party won only 28 of the 403 seats in India’s largest state (population 200 million), up just six from the 2007 poll. Mr. Rahul Gandhi must regret his personal effort, which he grandly dubbed ‘Mission 2012’ for which he campaigned full-time, with lavish funds, for over a year. He spurned an offer to join Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government in New Delhi. Instead he picked gargantuan UP, the old family fief, hoping that success there would compensate for Congress’s fading fortunes in another big state, Andhra Pradesh. Rahul Gandhi’s sister, Priyanka Vadra Gandhi, (married to wheeler dealer, Anglo-Indian, nouveauriche, multibillionaire in the making, Robert ‘Zardari’ Vadra) joined him in the campaign, urging voters to stay loyal to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and her brother, Rahul Gandhi. They ignored her.”
It was further reported in the media that, there were similar drubbings in two other assembly elections in the five states that voted. A rally by Sonia Gandhi, Congress’s boss, swayed nobody in Goa, where the predominantly Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) snatched victory with Catholic support. And Mr. Rahul Gandhi’s efforts to rejuvenate the party also failed in the Sikh majority state of Punjab: a local BJP ally, Akali Dal, romped back to office, the first time since the 1980s that a Punjabi incumbent has held on. India’s ruling party – the Congress – should be deeply worried. A general election looms in 2014 and the near- feudal power of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty is waning. Congress cheered a narrow electoral win in Uttarakhand in the north and a more emphatic one in Manipur, a poor and troubled north-eastern state. But regional power- brokers, such as Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose Samajwadi Party (SP) won by a landslide in UP, hold increasing sway. Indian politics has long been fragmenting. The SP’s mighty victory with 224 seats, for example, merely displaces another dominant local figure, Ms. Mayawati – who makes no secret of her lower caste Dalit background. Voters were offended by her government’s flagrant corruption and fondness for erecting grandiose public statues of herself and other dalit (low caste) symbols. She quit as chief minister after her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) came second, with 80 seats and 26% support. Still, that was only just below the 30% that brought her a landslide in 2007. Most political observers think that, ‘She will doubtless be back’.
Perhaps most hopeful of all, according to the Economist write up is that, first studies of the results show signs of a shift away from identity politics, in which voters lump together by caste or religion to back one of their own. Mayawati’s loss in UP was one example of the trend. The landslide re-election of Nitish Kumar as chief minister of Bihar state in 2010 was another. He has sought to stand above caste politics and focus on wider development goals. Better educated or more demanding voters holding politicians to account would be hugely beneficial. Congress has but one consolation: fragmenting politics could be an even bigger threat to its only national rival. The BJP also did badly this week. Its tally of seats fell not only in UP, but in Punjab and in Uttarakhand. It once again got none in Manipur. Tiny Goa aside, it has done nothing to persuade regional allies it has momentum or ideas for a strong challenge in 2014. All this, however, may be rather cheering for democracy. An election analyst, argues that local strongholds are “the foundation of Indian unity”. He reckons the robustness of India’s state, in a region of otherwise fragile ones, relies on a “thick” idea of nationhood made up of “regional parties and centers with their own cultures” rubbing along together. Far better that, he suggests, than trying to impose everything from the centre.
One does not have to be an expert to say that the recent election in the five states was a wretched show put up by Rahul Gandhi on behalf of his mother’s Congress party. The results of the elections in the (Punjab and U.P) assemblies reveal that the regional parties have fired the imagination of the electorate as the corrupt national parties (Congress and the right wing Neo-Nazi BJP have aroused contempt of the voters. The two important states (Indian occupied Punjab and the huge state of U.P.) have been won over by regional parties – Badal & Son’s Shromini Akali Dal & Mulayam Singh Yadav & Son’s SamajwadiParty(SP).Itisobvious that Rahul Gandhi was no match for the two shrewd politicians – Badal and Yadav. More than that Rahul Gandhi was living in cuckoo land, lacks the organizational ability to muster the voters for Sonia Gandhi & Son’s Congress party which could have enabled a serious comeback in UP and Indian occupied Sikh Punjab. The Congress party could form a government only in Manipur, one of the smallest states in Eastern India. The spate of corruption cases tarnishing the Congress dominated coalition central government in New Delhi, and the remoteness of their senior leadership from the problems of the common man, have also led to the marginalization of the Congress party. The arrival of Rahul’s sister Priyanka to help her btother Rahul in the field with a high profile campaign also did not help as the Congress party in U.P could win only 10% of the seats in that state. The bottom line is that Sonia Gandhi & son’s Congress party will now be too week to stop a slow down of economic reforms.
Various winners this week appealed beyond their core supporters. The Hindu BJP lured Catholic Goans. The SP usually gets backing from Muslims and yadavs (lowish caste) but this time educated, urban dalits swung behind it too. Similarly the Akali Dal, in Punjab, which long relied on prosperous and landowning jats, reached out to dalits. The most successful politicians are regional figures who persuade different sorts of voter that they can bring better rule. The hapless Mr. Rahul Gandhi, a national figure and scion of a ruling party in paralysis, never had a chance. He should take the advice given by the Economist and pander for a new career.