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Was re-electing Manmohan Singh a big mistake?

September 16, 2010 18:56 IST

UPA-2 seems to have completely lost direction in almost every single way be it in governance, national security, internal security, development initiatives, poverty alleviation and corruption eradication, says Pramod Kumar Buravalli.

The United Progressive Alliance came back to power almost a year and half ago with surprisingly strong numbers in the Lok Sabha. It rode on a wave of strong economic growth, due to populist policies such as loan waivers, rural employment scheme, the right to information and due to the simplistic nature of Manmohan Singh. It seemed that the people of India wanted to give a clear mandate to one of the two national parties instead of fractured verdicts but things have begun to unravel dramatically ever since the re-election.

The government of India led by UPA-2 seems to have completely lost direction in almost every single way be it in governance, national security, internal security, development initiatives, poverty alleviation and corruption eradication.

Kashmir is out of control because the Congress party does not want to put its foot down and say out loud that Kashmir will never be granted autonomy let alone self rule or azadi. It may fear that it will lose its secular image if it clamps down on separatists and azadi mongers which is far from reality but that is unfortunately how politics is overshadowing critical decision making.

Similarly, on the Maoist problem, UPA-2 seems to have no answers. They do not want to appear anti-tribal or anti-Mamata Banerjee but at the same time do not seem to know when to wield the stick and when to dangle the carrot. If this problem is allowed to grow unchecked, it may one day lead to the overthrow of all democratic institutions including the very Congress party that is unable to take firm decisions.

The development v land reforms v the environment debate is raging at the intellectual level but no one seems to have an idea what constitutes the aspirations of the people that live in those areas where the purported 'development' activity was supposed to have been carried out. If the people of that particular area do not want a factory and but would simply like to have good water supply, eight hours of electricity and a decent return on their agricultural investment, why should the government thrust major industries upon those traditional farmers? After all, don't we need self-sufficiency in food production considering the fact that the population of India will continue to grow unabated for the next 50 years? Why talk about food security legislation when there is no assessment of food supply and demand at the national level?

Poverty alleviation, corruption eradication and social equality (justice) all seem to have taken the back stage for now. These slogans just pop up a couple of months before every election. The Congress party has the uncanny knack of using these slogans temporarily and then pass on glorified (yet unchanged) statistics to the next government (be it their own).

Conclusion:

"Rough waters are truer tests of leadership. In calm water every ship has a good captain."

Leadership capabilities cannot be hidden for long. Manmohan Singh has been given the golden opportunity to show what he can bring to the table in his individual capacity in his second and perhaps last term. There are several leaders before him who have built strong legacies because they took substantial risks and forsook everything for the values they believed in.

If Dr Singh truly wants to build a legacy for himself then he better show why people elected a non-controversial person like him twice. Indians living within India and outside want to see corruption completely clamped down, separatism crushed and all round development that will lead to 'satisfaction' and a genuine reduction in poverty.

Inconsequential pats on the back from the international community and wah wah's from intellectuals will not redeem Dr Singh once the baton passes on from him in 2014.

The UPA cannot dream that it will simply come back to power (again) in 2014 because of its so called secular credentials and aam admi antics. How long will secularism and aam admi come to the rescue if the country itself is unable to stay united in growth, happiness and in adversity?

Out think, take risks and stay firm not necessarily in that order but second chances are not given to everyone Dr Singh!

Pramod Kumar Buravalli