With the wisdom of hindsight, everyone will give their views on the future once the presidential and vice-presidential elections are over. The Trinamool Congress has supported Pranab Mukherjee as the UPA put up a united front. Meanwhile, cracks have appeared in the NDA with Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) going its own way on the issue of the President but quickly taking a U-turn on the V-P poll. They supported Hamid Ansari for President but he is not acceptable as Vice-President to them. UPA II has done well, however, and the NDA seems to have recovered some ground after the Jaswant Singh’ selection as its V-P candidate. Some of its regional leaders displayed weakness in the manner they acted on crucial issues but that’s a story for later. The election to these two offices shows no trend on alliances for the future.
The issue of governance is on our minds; having functioned at the top level, I try to look for possible solutions. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is under tremendous pressure, but what has changed between 2004-09 and 2009-12? Singh’s integrity levels are high, his family has behaved with great dignity, his views as an economist still carry weight. So what has gone wrong? We can call it a coalition mess but I think it is due to the influence of criminal formations based on black money generation, a very small percentage of Indians accumulating huge amounts of illegal wealth from real estate, telecom, illegal mining, liquor distribution and theft of excise and sales tax, housing and construction, large defence contracts, etc. All this would be directly or indirectly linked to political funding in some manner.
No one has accused Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi, or for that matter, L K Advani, Jaswant Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj or Arun Jaitley of financial wrongdoing. In the 2G and CWG scams, no one except those directly involved were charged. In comparison, look at the vast assets accumulated by YSR Congress Chief Jagan Reddy during the regime of his father, by Karnataka’s former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, and many others. Their parties are not involved in any of these cases; family groups and individuals along with tax lawyers and chartered accountants are holding the entire political system to ransom. Sadly, political power is being eclipsed by these financial mafias. We have seen a judge arrested for giving bail to a mining baron; the amount went into many crores. This is someone who got caught in the act but can we assume this is an isolated instance in the judiciary?
When a Lok Sabha poll can cost every party `5-10 crore per candidate and an Assembly election `1-2 crore, can the aam aadmi ever be a part of the power circle at the Centre or in the states? We talk of increased criminality at every level but have those in governance in any of its three wings brought about any change in the system?
We see economic turbulence in the UK and Europe but look at the troubled situation in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Middle East. We have witnessed in the first phase street demonstrations in countries like Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, and Bahrain; in the more violent second phase we have witnessed death and destruction as regimes were toppled in Tunisia and Egypt. There has been civil war in Libya; Col Gaddafi and many of his family members have been killed, and now we see a massacre in Syria, the latest being that President Assad’s brother-in-law and defence minister were among those killed by a suicide bomber. The circle of violence has touched Assad and an end to the tyranny is near.
Feudal values are being challenged in a region dominated by absolute rule, either by a monarchy or a dictator. In each case, the bullet rather than the ballot controls the system. We have seen chaos and anarchy, we have seen violence and death and great suffering but yet a few determined people come on the streets to fight for freedom. The Middle East is going through what we in India had experienced 50 years before we achieved Independence from British Raj. I see a difficult 2012 and a troubled 2013 for the global community and we are very much a part of this society. We pray for revival of the monsoons in a day or so, and satellite maps promise much, but the game of hide and seek continues with the rain.