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Counter the strike

The election commission must come out with elaborate guidelines on the code of conduct for administrative decision making.

Written by Rajeev Shukla | March 20, 2009 12:02:47 am

The election commission must come out with elaborate guidelines on the code of conduct for administrative decision making. The present code has so much ambiguity that whenever it comes into force,the administration is thrown completely out of gear and everything comes to a standstill,whether it affects voters or not. The code must specifically pave the way for all administrative decisions that do not affect voters directly. Running of an entire country cannot be held hostage whenever elections are announced. Such is the dread about breaking the code of conduct that bureaucrats and government officials in every state and at Centre are wary of touching any files; leave alone taking a decision on them. In fact,all they enjoy is a perfectly valid opportunity to not do any work until the elections are over.

Hundreds of issues — that are totally irrelevant as far as influencing voters goes — are waiting for the election commission’s nod before being decided. Action on these files has been stopped by the bureaucrats,to err on the side of caution and to stay well within the limits of the ambiguous EC guidelines. Nobody knows what can be done and what exactly is allowed during the period when the code is in force. The country has to be run and the development process cannot be halted for months altogether. Ambiguity in the code’s provisions gives ample and valid reasons to the government machinery to sit idle,even as the civil servants keep drawing their salaries,perks and other facilities. We have competent bureaucrats in the election commission as heads,who are known for their bold decision making. Let the designate CEC and his fellow colleagues decide that elections are no excuse to stop the development march for the entire nation.

Pack of dreams

Yet another avatar of the Third Front has arrived and people of India should be wary of it. The combine is full of contradictions and the parties that are cobbling together under its banner have a solitary aim —grabbing power. The so-called Third Front has a long track record of breaking other political parties and providing instability to the nation.

Historical records prove that whenever a third front government is in power,the nation’s economy has suffered badly and the country has actually hit reverse gear. The primary reason is that there is never any cohesiveness in the Third Front and there is never an agenda for development,or for anything else except winning power. The Third Front becomes a front for a motley crowd of ambitious Mungeri Lals who only dream of gaining power and becoming prime ministers or otherwise hope to make personal political gains in the process. In any case,there are other groups who have not aligned with the so called Third Front; they are thinking of forming a fourth front for better bargains. Even a veteran leader of the Left front,like Jyoti Basu,has raised doubts and apprehensions over third front.

It can only be with support from either the Congress or BJP that an alternative government can gain power. If these two parties decide to ensure that no Third Front government will be allowed to gain power — in the larger interests of the country — there is no chance for the Mungeri Lals of the Third Front to live their wild fantasies.

Sticky wicket

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s early days had presented hope for Pakistan and even for India — he famously declared his intentions to take bold steps forward to resolve the Kashmir dispute. Now,unfortunately,Zardari seems to have fallen victim to the same shortsightedness that has plagued Pakistan’s leadership through history. At a time when his country is facing grave threats from Taliban and ingrown terrorists,Zardari could have been large-hearted and taken everyone along with him. He instead chose to turn friends into rivals and now a huge question hangs over his continuance as president. Far from taking the Indo-Pak relationship further,Zardari is today part of a growing list of headaches for India.

The writer is a Rajya Sabha MP from the Congress party

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