New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav expects a general election any time soon, but does not see a strong possibility of regional parties coming to power at the centre, while Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah does not want a coalition of smaller parties in New Delhi because such experiments led to instability in the past.
On the other hand, Sukhbir Singh Badal, deputy chief minister of Punjab, said even the national parties, Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), are being reduced to regional parties with no presence in many states.
The three chief ministers, who were participating in a discussion, “What India needs: Perspectives from Young Leaders”, on the second day of Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in the national capital, said the regional parties and the states are increasingly becoming more powerful and having a bigger say in policy making at the central level.
“Number is the name of the game in the multiuparty governments. Number determines the importance of the state,” Badal said. India has been witnessing muli- party coalitions with regional parties having stronger influence in the last two decades. Although the Congress has 206 members in the Lok Sabha, it relies on its regional allies for majority in parliament when it comes to policy decisions as well as in the legislation process.
The Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said that being in a coalition government is a “trade off” and parties have to learn to “work with each other.” While Abdullah reiterated his earlier statement that its impossible to eradicate corruption being in a coalition government, Badal said a Lok Pal bill, for which activists led by Anna Hazare had campaigned, would not eradicate corruption. “What we need is to eliminate the interaction between the common man and the government by using technology.”
Akhilesh Yadav agreed with him and said petty corruption can be reduced through technology. On being asked about the presence of people with criminal records in his government in Uttar Pradesh, the chief minister said there had been “many false cases”, but insisted that he had tried his best to block people with criminal records from getting tickets as it affects the image of the entire party. Denying that he has not been given full authority in the government in the state, he said: “Everyone together has made me the chief minister. I am responsbilie for my actions as chief minister. But I do take suggestions and advice from the elders in the party. They are not creating any obstacles for me.”
On the controversial issue of allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi- brand retail, Akhilesh Yadav, whose Samajwadi Party (SP) extends issue-based support to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, refused to clarify his party’s stance. “The decision on FDI will be revealed in the Lok Sabha... One must remember that we were the party that saved the country and the government when the issue of nuclear deal (with the US) came up,” he said. The SP had extended key support to the UPA when the Left parties withdrew their backing in 2008, opposing the India-US nuclear deal.
All the three chief ministers, who hail from political families, maintained that their family names help them to get an identity in politics but its sustainability depends on their actions. “The family can help you get a foot in the door but what matters afterwards is what you do.” Abdullah said. “People trust a brand,” Badal added.