Google Translate

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Recent State Election Results: What They Really Mean

Despite the serious infrastructural shortcomings such as clogged seaports, dreadful road networks, overcrowded railway corridors, unreliable and insufficient water and power supply systems, and importantly, an administrative system that is mired in corruption, the Indian businessmen are reported to have said that India is “a good place for entrepreneurs to succeed” and that many of them expect India to be the world’s biggest economic power in 20 years’ time.

Strange! Stranger still is the fact that everyone complains about the bad business climate in the country but none is doing anything to improve it. Thank God, the voters appear to be in a better position: they could act. The West Bengal voters have brought the 34-year reign of the communists to an end. Similarly, the DMK has fallen out of voters’ favor after ruling Tamil Nadu for five years. In Kerala too, the ruling communist-led Left Democratic Front has been voted out. And obviously, all this change has happened in want of high standards of governance. 

At least that is what the political analysts infer by contrasting the current election results with those of Bihar where the political leaders were believed to have focused on delivering basic necessities to people coupled with better economic growth with minimal scope for corruption and hence were returned to power even putting aside the so-called caste considerations for which the state was until then known for.

It may be true that communists are perhaps “the only politicians in India who don’t have Swiss bank accounts,” but they are the worst sufferers in the recent elections. For, the communists in Bengal continued to live on the past laurels won on account of land reforms, while the economy remained stagnant vis-à-vis the rest of the country in its 34-year-long rule. Neither the fall of the Soviet Union, the fountainhead of their party philosophy, in 1991, nor the switch over of their other comrade, China, to market economy to make their country an economic powerhouse could make the Indian Marxists change their policies. Indeed, it is ironical that while their communist brethren in China made special efforts to teach English to its populace, Jyothi Basu, in his anxiety to retain his vote base intact, but bereft of ideas to create employment to the youth and improve the economic lot of the people, resorted to plain emotionalism by banning the study of English at the primary school level in 1982 and claimed it as a triumph for the mother tongue. As a result, the quality of school-going children between the years 1982 and 1999, the year in which the policy was reversed, fell behind, for they were not equipped with English-speaking skills that are found necessary for upward mobility in the job market. As the implementation of such ill-conceived ideas started bearing vicious fruits in terms of no appreciable industrialization and urbanization, the last-minute efforts by the Chief Minister to showcase the communists’ love for growth in trade and industrialization and for creating fresh employment by inviting industrialists like the Tatas—which, of course, was bungled later—could not stop the people of the state, who had lost their patience, from dumping the communists.

The story of Tamil Nadu is in no way different. The DMK party in Tamil Nadu was accused of running the state as a family fiefdom. Corruption allegations are galore: family members of the former Chief Minister have been accused of having a hand in the 2G spectrum scandal. Analysts blame the defeat on Karunanidhi’s letting his family dominate the political scene in Tamil Nadu. Coming to Kerala, the highly educated state that receives around Rs 20,000 cr annually from migrant labor, the people were no longer enthused by Karat’s accusation that the reforms benefitted only the billionaires. On the other hand, the minorities were sore over the government’s attempt to regulate the fees charged by private schools run by religious groups. The net result is: the communist-led LDF was voted out of power.

Another significant revelation of these results is: the continued rise of ‘regionalism’. The national parties have put up a poor show. The BJP is totally marginalized in all the states that went for elections. Nor is the performance of Congress any better, but for winning the Assam elections. The once-powerful communists, who backed the UPA government in 2004 are today totally decimated. The emergence of regionalism at the cost of national parties is something that causes consternation to the national psyche and merits a debate at the national level by all political parties.

Now, coming to the final question: “Will this change of guard in any way help better the administration and pave the way for rapid economic growth? History does not encourage one to confidently say ‘Yes’. For, the same Mamata Banerjee, who, as an opposition party leader earlier, had driven out the Nano car project of the Tatas from Bengal, has today replaced the communists at the Writers’ Building. Jayalalitha, who has replaced Karunanidhi in Tamil Nadu, during her first reign as Chief Minister in 1991-1996, was indeed mired in scams and corruption charges, while in her second term, she was more obsessed with politics of vendetta against the DMK. But looking at the maturity of the Indian voters, one fondly hopes that the leaders will learn to deliver higher standards of governance, at least to stay in power for long.

GRK Murty


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Recent Posts

Recent Posts Widget