MY column in today’s DNA
Last week, the UPA government turned four. Racked by allegations of corruption, with tainted ministers and MP’s, with a power tussle between the Government and the Congress Party, with a revolving door approach to allies, at combat with the remaining institutions of State – the UPA has lurched from crisis to crisis. As it approaches the last year of the current Parliament (and the current Government) an A to Z of UPA 2.
A for Allies – The A in UPA stands for Alliance. The last four years has seen the most dreadful mismanagement of this alliance. Apart from the NCP there seems to be no one left whom the Government can call ally – in the true sense of the word.
B Bharat Nirman – the Government’s massive publicity campaign highlighting achievements. It would be great for an audience that has never heard of this Government or the scandals that have marked the last 4 years.
C– it seems that most of the Government’s nightmares begin with C – from the Congress Party trying to undermine the authority of the Government, to Coalition (a)Dharma, to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India who has called into question processes, procedures and even policies practised by the Government, and of course Corruption.
D for Deadlock – It is estimated that this current parliament has lost over 75% of working time due to a deadlock between the Government and the Opposition. While the Government has used bluster and legalese to get its way, the opposition has behaved like a spoilt child in a play ground – If we can’t have our way we will let no one play.
E for Executive – supposedly the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. Unfortunately the role of the executive, in general, and the Prime Minister in particular has been systematically weakened in the last four years.
F for Food , the Right to – The Government’s Flag Ship programme. A bit late in terms of introduction, but bang in time for the next elections. The Intentions are laudable – no Indian will go hungry – but the economics and the processes of delivering food to the bulk of India still has to be worked out.
G for Governance – there is a huge Governance deficit and that can be seen in terms of roads not built, skills not developed, budgets not spent, deals not struck, work stuck in bureaucratic limbo – and it impacts the system top down.
H for Hangings – After years of doing nothing, suddenly a spate of executions. A New President, and a change in policy. Pranab Mukherjee is possibly going to go down in history as the Hanging President. Midnight hangings, media blank outs, and people who have been on death row executed.
I for Indian National Congress (INC) – The grand old party of India and the main constituent of the UPA. With elections looming, the party seems to be ready to jettison the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, and replace it with a more saleable face – Rahul Gandhi.
Jobs – Job creation has suffered, partly because of a worldwide downturn, and partly because of wonky economics.
Kingmakers – trouble with the allies (both Congress and BJP) is that instead of being kingmakers they all want to be kings.
Line of Control – The Line of Control that demarcates the Party from the Government has been breached. That is going to have serious implications in the years to come.
Manmohan Singh – The Prime Minister. The man most tarnished by the scandals in the last four years. It is tragic that a man who represented so much of middle class’ aspirations in the last general elections, has become a figure for ridicule all around.
National Advisory Council – less advisory and more dictatorial. The shadow cabinet with seemingly more power than the actual cabinet. A council with neither accountability nor responsibility to Parliament
Opposition – The opposition to the UPA has come from its allies, from the CAG, from the anti corruption movement, and the NAC. Unfortunately the largest opposition party is still trying to figure what its stand on any issue is – apart from the resignation of the Prime Minister.
Parliament – given this Parliament and its lockjams, the Congress Party (and indeed the BJP) ought to ask themselves whether they want to contest more seats on their own
Quandary – facing the Government and the Party, go to the polls now or later. Will 12 months really make a big difference to the electoral outcome?
Reforms – The political class seems to have a general purpose anathema towards reforms of any nature. The economy, law and order, judiciary all need reforms – but little is forthcoming. New laws seem to be the answer, not reforming the system. This Government has managed to push through some reforms, but not enough, and not fast enough
Sonia Gandhi – has successfully lead the Congress Party to two General Election victories. Will be interesting to see if she leads the party for the next elections or hands the baton to Rahul Gandhi
Telengana – a totally mishandled situation. Do not promise anything – especially a State – if you don’t have intentions to deliver.
UIDAI – Unique Identification Authority of India that is supposed to issue the Aadhar card that would be used to deliver welfare services, including cash, to the citizen. On the face of it laudable- but implementation has been all over the place
Voters – we the people who decide the next Government of India. Whom do we vote for ?
Water – potable water , a major issue to be addressed for both urban and rural India.
X – factor – is sorely needed. Currently this government looks tired and weary. .
Youth – it is estimated that around 110 million first time voters, with no interest in legacy or dynasty, will be voting next election. How will the UPA attract them ?
Zero Loss – the legalese used to describe the loss in 2G. Hubris.