The government has finally opened its eyes and is trying to awaken itself from a deep, and what once seemed like unending, slumber. Taking the Opposition by surprise, it announced economic policy decisions and stated categorically that if any state government had a problem with the initiative, it need not take it on board. It is difficult to believe that the Bharatiya Janata Party is against foreign direct investment in retail and that the corporate entities that back the BJP and celebrate Narendra Modi find this position acceptable in the larger scheme of their vision for India. Mamata Banerjee’s usual immature tactic of issuing ultimatums, verging on blackmail, were rightly ignored.
Political parties are already in election mode and the fervour will only become high-pitched as the new year begins. Here is the last opportunity for the Congress to change gears and rewrite its mandate, both for the polls and for the future. I say ‘Congress’ as opposed to the plethora of other parties because there is no party other than the Communist Party of India (Marxist) that is led by politicians who are are upright, possess integrity and share a contemporary vision for India and Bharat. The only party with many young leaders is the Congress. This makes the time ‘ripe’ to grab the bull by its horns and end the appalling political mess. Will the party continue to wallow in the prevailing status quo or bring about a radical overhaul of the political narrative?
However honest, experienced and good the older political leaders might be, India cannot afford to prop them up any longer. Mulayam Singh may be a stubborn political war horse, but he is out of touch with the ‘new world’ in India and appears to be disconnected from everything save for political shenanigans that have, over the years, destroyed intelligent politics. Engagement has to go beyond the obvious business of winning a seat, manipulating numbers, and suchlike. India is desperate for a myriad visions that will converge into a formidable future where opportunities and dreams can have a chance of being fulfilled. This horror of wanting to stand still in the sinking sands of limited ideas because the senior leadership across all parties knows no better is suicidal for an energetic and youthful generation that feels constrained and controlled by old men and women determining their lives. Even we, now in our mid-sixties, have had enough of the old leadership that cannot identify with our aspirations and dreams that remain a mirage. We must not inflict that illness on another generation and hold India back.
Our leaders hang on to their gaddis for dear life even when they become ill and infirm. It is shameful that none ever resigns or retires. They are incapable of writing their memoirs or returning to their earlier passions or professions. This truth has led to a terrible reality — entering politics has become a dream for those who have failed in all other avenues. It is seen as a space where money can be made illegally by using power to extort, extract and exploit. Public respect for politicians has reached rock bottom. Politicians are tolerated and not looked upon as heroes who ought to be emulated.
The Nehruvian years made one proud, as did the regimes led by Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and A.B. Vajpayee. All those regimes, despite the many problems, were laced with a sense of hope. During the first tenure, Manmohan Singh and UPA I tried to set an agenda for India that was different. But the inability to handle a coalition and the surrender to every form of abuse in a bid to stay in power killed the credibility of the present government. Will the elders stubbornly stick to their posts or will they have the grace to pass on the baton?