Election dates for the Delhi assembly have been announced and the city has gone into election mode. Political pundits are pontificating on how many seats will be won by the new Aam Aadmi Party, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Strangely, the novice leader of the AAP has said that his party will form the government. That is how absurd the madness is. Rumour has it that some strong leaders of the BJP wanted Smriti Irani to be the ‘Delhi face’, but there was huge opposition from within the ranks and no one has been announced thus far. An energetic and focused Sheila Dikshit is out there, ready to fight for a fourth term as chief minister.
Whenever the Congress has stepped out of its corroded frame and forced change through a new, younger leader, there has been a change of mood. Reports from Madhya Pradesh filtering into Delhi claim that Jyotiraditya Scindia has shifted the bar. Had he been sent earlier as a potential chief ministerial candidate, the party would have gained ground there. The same is being said about Rajasthan. Sachin Pilot would have been far more inspiring for the voter than the present incumbent. In Chhattisgarh, the traditional infighting in the Congress will kill all chances of winning a mandate. It is clear that the old guard in the party needs to exit along with the paraphernalia that have damaged the party’s internal workings.
Because Dikshit is accessible, open to people and ideas and ready to think out of the box, she is a front runner even after having been at the helm for 15 years. She commands respect. The unelectable in her party, some of the general-secretaries and suchlike, are envious and unsupportive, insecure and politically inept, and therefore tend to spread canards and work against her. Immune to the politicking and the obvious antagonism towards her for being a successful leader, Dikshit carries on, yet again fighting to win. Many young professionals have joined her in her battle for her fourth term.
India is not looking for anarchy and wild slogan mongering. Stability and dignity are what the country yearns for. Had the Congress and the BJP shown commitment and maturity, they would have been the two options for the Centre, thereby allowing the strong regional parties to rule the states. This federal polity would have been secure and progressive. States would have competed with one another and grown substantively with intelligent leadership. The Centre would have played a national role, allowing the states their freedoms. That would have been the logical way to devolve power to the states and manage the umbrella issues from Delhi. The new generation in India seems to be looking for that stability. The immediate concerns of the states can only be understood by state leaders, and not by alien bosses in New Delhi. The mishandling of the Telangana issue is a case in point.
Security, foreign policy, fiscal policy and currency are possibly the areas that Delhi should manage. In a plural society such as ours, decentralization is imperative for inclusive growth. Diktats based on the whims of a bunch of netas and babus in Delhi are a no-no. It would be disturbing to analyse, even superficially, the empowered group of ministers that rules us today. The prime minister does not travel extensively in India. His coterie is not open and accessible but closed and exclusive. The leaders believe they know it all but do not hear the voices on the ground. To the outside world, they give the impression that they want to run away from the real world that tells a story they do not want to hear. The disconnect is scary. Only a radical overhaul will help narrow the gap between the winner and the loser in 2014.