Collusive competitionhttps://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/collusive-competition/

Collusive competition

The precision of the timing with which the CBI announced that they were investigating a case against N Srinivasan was uncanny

The precision of the timing with which the CBI announced that they were investigating a case against N Srinivasan was uncanny. Not just any case but one involving Jagan Reddy as well,which put Srinivasan in a special class of those who have displeased the top of UPA. At first it looked like Srinivasan,like all other netas,was immune to removal and could carry on his trade with impunity. After all,a corrupt son-in-law is almost a must-have fashion accessory in the top families among India’s elite. What are daughters for then?

Not only did Srinivasan not have to leave but a compromise was worked out with exemplary collusion between the Congress and BJP ‘cricket’ netas. This looked like a radical solution to the post 2014 election situation—neither UPA,nor NDA but BCCI (BJP-Congress Coalition for India). Alas,it is not to be. The powers that be at the top of UPA have decided that there has to be a head or two chopped off from the top elite of cricket.

So we are back to the ‘phoney war’ until the elections. The Congress has the problem of choosing its best policy promise which can entice voters back to its fold. The Food Security Bill is an obvious candidate. But it has been left too late to be passed and implemented in time before the elections. Yet it is not late enough to pass an ordinance as there is time to debate it in the Lok Sabha (BJP permitting). It is a curious quest since it is neither necessary nor sufficient for the Congress to win in 2014. The Congress will win rural votes yet again in any case. Its problem is with urban voters who backed Manmohan Singh in 2009 to deliver decisive reforms and now feel disappointed. They will not care about food security. Indeed,if anything they consider it a waste of money.

Urban voters want lower inflation and a cut in interest rates which will ease the burden of their bank loans. They want better infrastructure and less government interference in their daily lives. They want efficient delivery of public services and transparency in the government departments they have to deal with. This is not the way the Congress pictures the nation. For the Congress,India is full of poor people who are begging to be given food at low prices or as Rahul Gandhi would put it—to be empowered (by him,of course).

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The BJP has no time to think about the nation. It is too busy dealing with the leadership struggle at the top. For a so-called disciplined party,Advani’s latest blog is evidence that unrest is rife at the top and the fear that Modi is unstoppable is more palpable within the BJP than outside. In any normal political party,there would be an open contest where party members would vote in a primary and a leader would be chosen (except where birth has predetermined the choice as in the case of Congress). But the BJP is neither dynastic nor democratic. It is oligarchic but remote controlled by a paternalistic RSS.

It is difficult to envisage how the Congress could possibly come back after 2014. It is not just the polls but even the body language of the Cabinet is loud and clear. These are people who know they have lost. But the BJP is not as yet certain to win. Indeed,it could easily manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The prospect of a double blow as both the Congress and BJP fail to clear the 150 seats mark is real.

Yet India faces urgent problems. The Naxal attacks are one priority. China is siding up with the US to have a G2 world. How India is to deal with that world is another urgent issue. GDP growth needs to be revived if India is to be taken seriously again. India’s global reputation is down more than what many Indians can imagine. The cricketing scandal did not come as a surprise. It just reinforced India’s reputation as a country of scams and scandals.

If India ends up with a Third Front coalition which will last,at best,two years,all these problems will remain unsolved. Time for a BCCI?