There is a supreme ‘carelessness’ in the manner the United Progressive Alliance II operates and presents itself. It appears unconcerned and arrogant, stubborn and dismissive about the exposure of misdeeds and mismanagement, which have become a daily revelation. In the case of the missing coal files, it is unimaginable why the prime minister, as the chief executive of the Central government, did not register an FIR before the Opposition demanded that he do so. Surely, the top leadership needs to set an example by using the established mechanisms to ensure good governance? What is wrong with registering an FIR with the police to investigate who stole the files? Surely that is what citizens are expected to do when there is a case of stealing?
Instead, we are made to hear some weak excuses for what symbolizes a breakdown of the government and its administration. India is sickened by this callous attitude towards the intelligence of millions of adult Indians. It is as though we citizens are all fools and need to be ignored. It makes a complete mockery of democracy and its institutions. For the Congress to assault what its founders had created with devotion and profound thought is unacceptable to those who have supported the party for its liberal and democratic roots. Those ‘roots’ are unfortunately being decimated by the UPA II shenanigans, making way for polarized politics, something that will tear the fabric of India into shreds. The UPA II has a very faulty record — it has disregarded good practice and institutional correction.
The Congress has to bear the brunt of this abject failure. ‘Leadership’ appears non-existent. Confidence and dignity of purpose have disappeared into the mists of time. Floundering responses and often perverse verbal reactions have driven a large bulk of voters away from this mother of all parties. Before Parliament stands adjourned after a volatile innings, the prime minister flies off to a foreign destination to ‘engage’ with other leaders, having never engaged with the people on the alarming reality that his government has led us all into.
That eerie sense of drowning in chaos, because of an inept government that believes it needs to revert to ‘command economy controls’ if it has to stem the horror, only goes on to prove its limited intellectual acumen that is aided by an inability to put efficient processes and delivery mechanisms in place. It is unforgivable that the government led by Manmohan Singh has not bothered to institute a single administrative reform that could have reduced unnecessary spending on junk and personal perks, to begin with. He, as an economist and without a personal political constituency, should have risen above petty politics and led the charge for a fundamental change of the administrative machinery.
Sonia Gandhi countered the simplistic ‘World Bank, American’ model with compelling initiatives for the people of India, the less privileged who have been ignored and neglected through the decades of change and growth. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Right to Information Act, the food security bill, land reforms and more have been initiated by her and not by the government. With reluctance, the government has fallen in line with the party president’s strategies and demands for the Indian people. She has managed to put in place some of the commitments stated in the directive principles of the Constitution. The government groaned and raised the standard bogie of ‘where are the resources’. However, that same government was unable to reduce expenditure on itself and its perks and freebies, from real estate to water and electricity. The government should have put in place an honest delivery system. It failed to do so.