Gurpreet Mahajan (“A verdict against extremism,” Mint, 17 May) misread the role of regional parties in the previous government. How could it do any good when the prime minister did not have a say in the selection of cabinet ministers, who instead took their orders from their bosses back “home”? The partners’ role in shaping rural jobs or loan waiver schemes was superfluous; it is routine for democratic governments to resort to such populism a year or so before elections. However, the Left Front’s role was nothing short of evil and disastrous. The most significant result of this election has been the near-total rout of the Communists whose “God” failed some 60 years ago, but who still wield the hammer and sickle of stone-age vintage in this computer and genetics era.
To celebrate the Left’s absence in the coalition, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) should not go overboard and press with financial sector reforms too fast. Talks of channelling India’s high savings into financial markets should sound alarm bells, considering what has happened in developed markets abroad.
We need monitored capitalism and not unbridled and shortsighted market-based financial policies which could harm the common man in the long term. In these times of globalization and unhindered flow of capital, this opinion may appear too anachronistic. But a conservative financial policy is what has helped India in turbulent times.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have been given a free hand by the nation to implement a programme of economic resurgence. But unless there is massive employment generation, the channelling of youth power in the country will not become possible.
In the given scenario, India will have to lay emphasis on promoting manufacturing, processing and infrastructure activity. As part of this effort, special economic zone projects should be shortlisted for the attention of the government.
Even before the new government has taken office, many sycophants in the Congress are advocating that Rahul Gandhi should take over as prime minister of India. Now, the Congress has gotten elected on the mandate of Manmohan Singh. Rahul Gandhi, at 38, has yet to acquire the political maturity to manage India.
The history of the last few decades in India shows that whenever the Congress enjoys unbridled power, its factions tend to get arbitrary and unilateral. Consider Indira Gandhi declaring the Emergency, Sanjay Gandhi’s excesses on family planning and Rajiv Gandhi’s ignoring the nation’s angst on the Bofors guns scandal. India should be careful about becoming a family business.
The election results, with the Congress led-UPA winning, are best summed as old wine in old bottles. The same politicians have returned, without even a courtesy make-up. We could have another five years of lacklustre management. None of the newly elected is going to clean up the slums, or even repair the roads and gutters. They are not going to ensure sensible balancing of farm production and prices to prevent farmer suicides.
Terrorism and hooliganism will continue to rule urban streets. Corruption will continue with public funds being siphoned into private pockets. The fact that the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party cannot even muster simple majorities on their own strength to form governments, but have to depend on coalition partners, underscores their inability to hear the heartbeat of ordinary people and respond to them. Hence, the average turnout of voters has been about 58% nationally, despite the $2 billion spent on this election.
—Rajendra K. Aneja