Sunday, May 31, 2009 / Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Has Congress gobbled up more than it can chew, much less digest?
As if, a tsunami has struck the Indian political island and only two peaks jutting out that have survived the avalanche: dynasty and power; both peaks interconnected by an inverted rainbow bridge that never curves to touch the lowly grounded masses. The dazzled masses have yet to figure out how their future will change – when will they ride the rainbow.
The most awesome sight is the trooping of all the humbled aspirants of exclusive powers at the top, who are seeking the shelter of the victorious dynasty. Be that Sharad Pawar, Mayawati, Lalu or Paswan. Sages like Lord Meghnad Desai, whose sympathies with the Hindutva forces is not a secret, all of a sudden is prominent among the cheerleaders, who wants NCP and the Communists, both to merge with the Congress. In his weekly Indian Express column, he exhorts CPI (M) to ‘make peace with the Congress, change your spots, and merge’.
However, for Congress, these are like honeymoon days. Only time will tell, if Congress has gobbled up more than it can chew, much less digest? Though it is commonly believed that the Grand Old Party itself started up as a grand old coalition party; it remains to be seen if it has gathered the same across the board goodwill and unity of purpose to nurture and nourish an egalitarian India that would care for all its people in equal measure. However, as past history shows, how greed for power, exclusivity, egoistical one-upmanship, gravy train corruption, polarisation of people as divide and rule strategies and high handed dynastic power trips, eroded the gloss that had held the coalition together. All these demons are still sheltering under the Manmohan Congress umbrella and it would not take time for them to raise their heads, at the first sign of the faltering of the top triumvirate.
The greatest challenges will come both from abroad and from within.
Skeptical observers correctly question the entire surrealism of the new Congress that is manifestly not supported by any upward mass upswing. The hoopla is more of a media creation. Congress hand seems to hide a foreign hand. The technical fait accompli may be tested at various levels as time progresses. Just as US Vice President had publicly declared that Obama will face grave challenges in his presidency, so to, the trio will be put to severe tests. Their apparent strengths are also their weakness. They are too top heavy to be immune to buffeting from ground up. The team that the trio has collected in their cabinet does come out with rare display of a genuine gung-ho spirit to tackle challenges ahead. Key ministers are well- experienced and well-tested. However, the rank and file that in fact runs the machines of the governance is yet to show that they are willing to accept the trio as their new masters who mean business. Heads should role, at first sign of laxity, compromise and chalta hai attitude. In that Manmohan should take a leaf from Mayawati, who demonstrably shows how a tight ship she captains. Sycophancy should be treated as poison. Favouritism and cronyism should be publicly derided. And any sign of collaboration with foreign powers to compromise on the integrity, security and prime interest of the nation, should be ruthlessly pursued and punished. All ministers with even a shade of corruption, actual and/or suspected, should be put on guard. Moves in foreign affairs should be reoriented towards India’s own longer term associations. An emerging nation, as India is, in the new economic power reshuffling, has to choose its friends and foes judiciously and not under foreign pressures and alien agenda. The recent storm in the tea-cup when known hawks were given the opportunity to bring in new colours of demonisation of our neighbours has been mercifully blown away for the time being. But the danger is lurking that India will be dragged into foreign adventures or misadventures, on the open and relentless demands of its supposedly strategic partners, that is bankrolling its economic turnaround. India will have to choose between a war economy and a peace economy. If it chooses a war economy, it would be thrust into a war, sooner than later. The national ethos of Indian people does not support it. The devastation on a mass scale will be so destabilising, that people may revolt against their government, though widely believed to be elected with a broad mandate.
With economists at the top echelons of Congress government now taking office, it is a moment of great challenge to choose, if India should be forced in to a war economy, when war could be looming large over the northern horizons. India could through astute diplomacy buy time for the economy to strengthen its grass root stability and not get entangled in any international Great Game to help other economic powers to thrust their agenda on our poor masses. India has survive the meltdown much better than the West and even China, due to its economy still heavily oriented towards its own people and resources. The foreign investments and entanglements have yet to percolate into the system to affect our economic life, to the degree that globalisation and liberalization has brought to the Western economies. Thanks to the erstwhile coalition partners from the Left, unbridled expansion was judiciously checked. The danger now is that that coalition partner has been cleverly taken out of all the reckoning, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be pressurised to open us further ‘reforms’. However, the choice of Pranab Mukherjee, with his past experience in planned economy, should be able to steer the country away from any reckless experimentation and close the loop holes that gave the opportunities to people like Satyam Chief, to play havoc with peoples’ resources.
On the internal organizational front, though the Congress decision to throw off the yoke of coalition partners has manifestly succeeded in returning Congress to once again at the helm of affair, and with much better head-count, Congress is essentially riding a troika, where the Rightist, Centrists and Leftists from within the Congress stables, are being harnessed to ensure a smooth journey. However, the pull of independence cannot be discounted for long. All three groups that had tasted freedom will maintain their linkages and might try to form or encourage alternative formations, to give vent to their ideological and/or regional aspirations. Congress cannot please all the people all the time and the whip of dynastic sycophancy and discipline will be tested again and again. The temporary strength of centralized power cannot last for ever and it will call for immense resilience on the part of Manmohan Singh and Sonia, to appease the troika in not dragging the party in all directions.
Congress as a party has yet to acknowledge the voluntary participation of Muslim voters in some of the most crucial face-off constituencies. In the session of Parliament, where Smt. Meira Kumar was elected first Dalit woman speaker of the Lok Sabha, by unanimous vote endorsement from all political parties, the live telecast of the entire proceedings, appear to those from the 150 million Indian Muslim community that happen to watch, as throbbing with some unanimous conspiracy to ignore and bloat out the very existence of Indian Muslims as citizens of India, without any right to be represented in the affairs of their country. A few Urdu couplets read out by Trinamol Congress Chief Mamta Banerjee and a prominent Sikh MP, were the only forced and indirect recognizance that Muslims had some relevance to the historical proceedings that the nation was so reverentially witnessing.
Congress insensitivity towards Indian Muslims is appalling. It appears that it is still deeply committed to the 2-nation theory, while only paying lip service to the secular and democratic constitution of India.
Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai