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HOPING FOR CHANGE

Sitting in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, and watching Indian television away from the madness of New Delhi and the near-rout of the Grand Old Congress Party, one is able to assess some of the strange and incomprehensible happenings back home, interlaced with other rather interesting, out-of-the-box moves initiated by the Narendra Modi government from the wings, as it were, on the eve of the first set of moves it will make on the stage from Monday, May 26. Every ‘event’ has been carefully and logically orchestrated in an effort to showcase a systematic game plan prior to the swearing-in to ensure a smooth passing of the baton. Gujarat will have a new chief minister and India will have a new cabinet. To invite the heads of governments from the neighbourhood of Saarc as well as from other countries is a ‘first’. His invitation has acknowledged the importance of India’s neighbours and opened the possibility of a future partnership in the region. Will the relationship with the Saarc nations be more equal than it has been in the past? Will Modi extend a carefully structured hand to international partners in a way in which India will act on its own terms and not abdicate its positions? Will our foreign policy be less in awe of the United States of America in his scheme?

The grand anointment planned in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan for May 26 promises to be unusual since most such events happen in the Durbar Hall or the Ashoka Hall. Three thousand people are expected to attend. If one is to go by rumours filtering in about a restructuring of ministries in an attempt to streamline governance and reduce all the unnecessary spending on the administration, its administrators and their unlimited perks, one is in for a welcome change. It was so unthinking of the United Progressive Alliance governments I and II not to have activated administrative reforms during their tenure. They had initiated the proposals under the Moily commission but let the volumes gather dust. It has cost them dearly. Many of the service sector ‘ministries’ need to be disbanded, entrepreneurship liberated and creativity celebrated and encouraged.

Leap back

Cut to New Delhi and the Aam Aadmi Party. The party members come across the footlights as juveniles struggling to gain confidence in themselves. Referendum and repoll, both are banal suggestions. A repoll, and the expense that accompanies such an exercise, should be shunned by a party that has professed from the rooftops that it is different. Their only difference is immature politics using the same archaic tools as other parties have used for decades. Their ‘funding’ agents are just another bunch of businessmen.

It is the same system of living off the dole of corporate houses without any real reform whatsoever. It is embarrassing to hear Arvind Kejriwal speak and apologize for having run away from his responsibilities, looking for national attention. If the citizens of Delhi want more instability and neglect like they have been assaulted with over the last few months, with no government in place to govern the capital of India, then AAP will win the votes. However, the chances are that the Bharatiya Janata Party will sweep out the jhadu.

It is disturbing to see how pathetic the counterpoint to the Modi victory has been. The AAP looks like a bunch of novices playing at politics; the Congress is blaming the media blitz for its drubbing instead of admitting that it was unable to read the writing on the wall for two years at least. For our democracy to become robust and flexible, the Congress needs to leap back into the fray, actively and purposefully, to rebuild itself as a viable and constructive Opposition, upholding the values enshrined in the Constitution of India.