The wait

This moment of suspended animation in India’s democracy holds a beginning and an end.

By: Express News Service | Published: May 15, 2014 12:22 am

The last election speech has been made, the last vote cast, the last slogan chanted. Leaders across parties are now recuperating from election fatigue. Reportedly, while the JD(U)’s Nitish Kumar nurses an aching tooth, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, the Congress candidate from Lucknow, catches up on sleep. And the AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal, back from the sound and fury of Varanasi, has retreated into the silence of vipassana. Everywhere, the sense is of a battle lost or won. Everywhere, a breathless wait for the day of judgement — May 16.

This moment of suspended animation holds within it a beginning and an end. It is the end of an era, as government desks are cleared, the old dispensation winds up and the prime minister walks out of his South Block office for the last time. Government will have a new face, and with it, the life of certain institutions will hang in the balance.

The Planning Commission, a legacy of the Nehru era and a fact of life in the Indian polity ever since, may have held its last meeting. The National Advisory Council, set up by the UPA 10 years ago and identified with welfare legislation such as the RTI Act and MGNREGA, may not be reincarnated. As the old institutions are brought to the verge of extinction, there are those who feel that a set of ideas will die with them. Suddenly, the debates and passions of a decade seem to be in the past tense.

But, incredible as it may seem, history will not end on May 16. As a new government is formed and Parliament kicks back into life, it will be business as usual — there will be outrage, argument, and the odd flying chair. The churn of a great democracy in progress.

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