With the leadership in complete limbo, there is, for the first time in recent years, a genuine clamour for Rahul Gandhi to take charge. Complete charge. People who were critical of him and the ‘dynasty’ are now rooting for him. There is a strong belief that if the Congress does not allow Rahul Gandhi to get into the saddle and play the game his way, there could be ‘political khichri’ or a Narendra Modi at the Centre. The khichri, whichever way it cuts, cannot last a full term because of the personalities of the players: they are greedy, politically selfish, and unable to handle the politics of convergence that is essential for India to remain united. There is also the question of whether the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies will stand by Modi for prime ministership.
Never before in the last 50 years can I recall a moment such as this when there is no one in charge. It is very disturbing when everyday decisions are not taken by the government, when Parliament is not permitted to convene, when protest means breaking laws and rules of the statute book, and when all of that ‘wrong’ influences and endorses the worst kind of social activities and assaults that are gnawing away at the fabric of India. Leaders set the agenda and the standards. Our leaders have sunk to the lowest depths possible, or so one believes, till one wakes up to other horrors: khap panchayats operating outside the law, bans on anything and everything, personalized allocations of potentially lucrative operations, mal-governance by a corrupt administrative machinery.
We need a leader who does not carry the baggage of the 1950s, the Emergency, the failure of the experiment involving the Janata Party and the degraded politics of unhealthy coalitions. India needs a fresh start. The highfalutin intellectualization of the politics of Bharat, indulged in by ambitious academics on the fringes of activism and politics, has, in fact, helped consolidate the dreadful status quo. We need an active shadow cabinet to formulate the government’s strategies and work incessantly to create a blueprint for transparent and inclusive governance. We have had more than our share of false manifestos that say the same old thing.
This time, we need to examine the operating manual which will replace the existing one that is dying of a terminal disease. We need to know who will be at the helm of governance to allow us to vote for our future prime minister rather than for the members of an amorphous party or conglomeration who have their personal interests in their hearts. We want a meticulous enunciation of our foreign policy. We need to see the master plan of each of our fast developing cities and towns that have been reduced to diseased slums because of unthinking regulations and absurd formulas devised by uninitiated babus. We need creative, international guidelines for tourism, for the management of our heritage, our natural environment and our treasury of human skills. We need to know how the mechanisms and processes will work in a changed form. We need to see the new manuals.
India cannot be exploited and betrayed any longer. This great civilization has been abused by its elected leaders, who have assaulted the citizens of India by consciously choosing not to rewrite the draconian, colonial laws. That is the real font of corruption. It suits the State to govern with such laws and repress creativity, change and aspiration on a planet that has moved on beyond the Indian reality, which remains parochial and insular. We have been left behind. To start again, we need two young individuals to fight each other in the next elections. Enough of the 80-year-olds.