And they have blown it yet again. A damp squib rejig, nothing that could even remotely be called a reshuffle. This cabinet, given that a general election is due in a few years, should have created a sense of firm statesmanship at the helm through the selection of fresh incumbents. Alas, that was not to be, and the opposition parties must be sighing deeply with profound satisfaction. Another foot forward, for no crafting of theirs. The two sensible appointments were those of Salman Khurshid and Jayanthi Natarajan. For the rest, even the shuffling made no real sense. When the ‘government’ maintained on television that governance will improve with this readjustment, there were peals of laughter from some viewers. Finally, the many dentures and wigs, stuck in a time warp, prevailed.
With this game of non-musical chairs, one positive signal has gone out — early elections are bound to be announced towards the end of this year, because, as it stands today, the Central Team is not strong enough to pull it off till 2014. It cannot hang in for three more years and work towards ensuring that an honest corrective kicks in. That does not appear to be the intention. Sadly, no change of the faulty operating grid was enunciated. No induction of squeaky clean fresh faces in the council. No professionals as lateral entries anywhere. Nandan Nilekani, for example, would have made a great human resource development minister, thereby allowing Kapil Sibal the opportunity to devote his full attention to the telecom ministry, which needs to be restructured with deft precision.
This tamasha was merely more of the same, non-transparent past. There was no attempt at sending ‘strongmen’ back to the states to conquer back Madhya Pradesh, a Maharashtra that is on the edge, and Andhra Pradesh that brought in the numbers to tilt the balance in favour of the Congress. Had that been the motive of the reshuffle, the general elections would have been in 2014, heralding the possibility of a clear victory for a single party. Alas, political thinking and the laying of a strong base for the future have been overtaken by denial and intellectual inertia.
Clearly, a return to good governance is not the priority; instead, politicking is the mantra. Get Khurshid to pass the lok pal and food security bills; get Jairam Ramesh to construct and table the land acquisition bill, and then, declare the midterm polls and scramble to win, maybe even a larger mandate. This is the only survival strategy for a possible third term. Short-term thinking and antagonism to the aspirations of a young and agile nation are disturbing. Soon Air India will be ‘exposed’ and another scam will unravel. The government will run for cover. Coalition dharma will be the excuse again for corruption and bad practice. A ‘this too shall pass’ syndrome and a status quo that has diluted dignity and probity in public life have severely damaged India.
There is blatant disrespect for new ideas, for individuals who are energetic, young, or even middle aged. There is discomfort with unknown initiatives or alternatives, as well as with fresh challenges. It is a shame that those in their dotage cling on to office. Change will happen and growth will race ahead only when the intellectually debilitated, old and staid, predictable and comatose, leave their gaddis. Making errors of judgment and mistakes is the prerogative of the young. Give them the baton and allow India to move forward.
Why this aversion to risk? Why this desperate attempt to mark time, to survive a little longer and discredit governance and leadership? Why this reluctance to step aside and make way? What merits this warped rajniti?