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Election gimmicks

The low electoral turnout in Mumbai,41.24 per cent,was shameful.

Written by Soli J. Sorabjee |
May 10, 2009 12:37:37 am

The low electoral turnout in Mumbai,41.24 per cent,was shameful. Apparently the prospect of a long weekend was too tempting for Mumbaikars for not exercising their franchise. In New Delhi,despite the heat the turnout was 50.3 per cent. The most encouraging part is violence-free polling in Bihar. Projections of the likely seats humorously vary. Congress minister Ashwani Kumar is confident that the BJP will not make even the third digit whereas Rajnath Singh is over-confident about BJP’s clear lead in numbers. What a fertile ground for the bookies!

We shall keep our ‘options open’,is the election mantra of political parties,whose numbers are expected to be pathetically low but whose support will be decisive in government formation. This constant refrain indicates that these parties are fence sitters. Lalu Prasad,having run out of abusive invectives against Nitish Kumar,is sulking in sublime silence. Mulayam Singh deserves a place in the Guinness Book of Records for his promised support to any party at the Centre which would dismiss the Mayawati Government in UP. This bizarre remark betrays constitutional illiteracy. State governments cannot be dismissed at the likes and dislikes of the Centre but only on fulfillment of the constitutional requirements of Article 356,namely constitutional breakdown of machinery in the state. Mulayam Singhji should be given a copy of Article 356 and the Supreme Court judgment in the Bommai case,translated in Hindi. Tragically in this election,we the people of India are constrained to be mute impotent spectators in the Theatre of the Absurd.

Taliban menace

It is unlikely that Talibans can take over Pakistan,which has a large,well-trained and well-equipped army and which can crush the Talibans if it has the will to do so. A real concern is about Talibans somehow clandestinely gaining access to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. This must be prevented at all costs,including international military intervention if necessary,because ramifications of that eventuality are of the utmost gravity to India and other countries. The infiltration of the Talibans into India and terrorist attacks by them cannot be ruled out. Our topmost priority should be to completely overhaul our security and counter-intelligence systems and counter-terrorism measures which are inefficient and inadequate. The US Country Report on Terrorism 2008 is significant. It states that “the Indian government’s counter-terrorism efforts remain hampered by its outdated and overburdened law enforcement and legal systems”. Going by press reports,some half-hazard measures appear to have been taken,but what is lacking is a sense of urgency. The matter should be dealt with on a war footing. We must not wait for any future terrorist attack to galvanise us into action.

Youth,dynasty and prime ministerial candidates

It is rightly felt that the future of the nation depends on our youth,who have retained idealism and upon whom the prison gates of materialism have not yet closed. But surely the youth of the future cannot be the sole preserve and monopoly of any one political party as is apparent from the statements of our prime minister and some Congress leaders,which suggest that there are no talented and progressive young people in other political parties. That apart,there are young people in the Congress who are as eligible and qualified to be the future prime minister of India as Rahul Gandhi. For example,Sachin Pilot,who has good experience and is faring well in the electoral battle in Rajasthan. Another is Jyotiraditya Scindia,a person with a fine background,experience and unquestionable integrity. Omar Abdullah,technically not in the Congress,is an outstandingly good young leader with prime ministerial potential.

The rub is that they do not belong to the Gandhi dynasty,unfortunately their surname is not Gandhi. If Feroze Gandhi had a traditional bawaji Parsi surname like Daruwalla or Sopariwalla or Screwalla,there would be a different tale. Rahul Screwalla would not be as attractive to the Indian masses as the magic name Rahul Gandhi. Dear beloved Shakespeare,there is much in a name in India,especially during elections.

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