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History made by the millions

No surprise then. Not for readers of this column. I am afraid I have to crow though with some humility. I had consistently said Congress....

Written by Meghnad Desai |
May 17, 2009 1:38:05 am

No surprise then. Not for readers of this column. I am afraid I have to crow though with some humility. I had consistently said Congress would be the largest single party, and the UPA will form the government but with new partners. As it happened,Congress got many more than 160; it looks like 200 or maybe more as of now. The UPA as it was contesting will get to 250 plus and may not even need the Fourth Front,to say nothing of the pretentious,deluded Third Front.

The BJP/NDA has much serious thinking to do. India needs a good stable opposition. It needs one which is modern in its outlook and its leadership. The majority of voters were born after the Partition,not to say after the Emergency. To them the BJP agenda is meaningless. All the Muslim-bashing and lately even Christian-hating (BJP may not own up to it but it never forcefully disowned its paratroopers) will not do. The politics of hate belongs to a lost generation. India could use a robust right-wing party which can offer a serious alternative to Congress/ UPA. In its present form BJP has a long way to go before it does that. Varun Gandhi is not the future which beckons. He should have been denied a ticket after the speech he made at Pilibhit. The hesitant mention of Mandir showed that the BJP knows this but the temptation to play the Hindutva card cost a lot of votes when,after Malegaon,the party began to denounce the ATS. If a national party disowns the forces of law and order and distinguishes between Hindu terrorism ( good) and Muslim terrorism (bad) it has no place in today’s India. The votes pretty much gave that message.

The Left will lick its wounds. As it does that,it should reflect that the tired notion of Imperialism is now overdue for the dustbin. It was,maybe,alright when India was a colony (though the comrades collaborated with the Imperialists during the Second World War). It may have been fine when their paymasters in the USSR used it for propaganda purposes. But the USSR is gone and China pursues a confident policy vis a vis the US unbothered by silly notions of ersatz Leninism. India has to be a proud and confident nation,stick to its own interests as a regional power and a global player. This is why the nuclear deal made sense and also why India’s Muslim population did not have a kneejerk reaction as the comrades wished.To be a communist may require unthinking behaviour but being a Muslim or a Hindu or any other kind of Indian does not.

Why did Congress win? I would say good growth record and inflation contained without much damage,plus a reasoned response to 26/11 and no surrender to DMK blackmail over LTTE. Plus of course,Manmohan Singh. He makes dynasty palatable. He has now renewed the dynasty’s lease on the the leadership for another generation. The short gap between 1991 and when Rahul is ready has been taken care of,and when the time comes Manmohan Singh will happily hand over the baton. I hope that is not too soon.

But Congress also has to watch it. Well done,of course,but let us hope it does not misuse its power like Indira Gandhi did. The national institutions which should be free of political pressure — the CBI for instance — have been corrupted and need to have their credibility restored. The use of president’s rule was rightly rejected when Mulayam asked for it before the election in his anti-Mayawati obsession. But now post-election let us hope Congress is not tempted to deliver to Mulayam his illegitimate dues. Congress needs to skip a generation or two in its memory. Forget Rajiv Gandhi and forget Indira Gandhi. Think of Jawaharal with his scrupulous respect for the due processes of law. Now there is time and there is the strength and the people’s faith for Congress to stop feeling hunted and persecuted. Relax and rule,but with due respect for law. What good is dynasty if it does not remember its true past.

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