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Old whine,new bottle

The editorial in the latest issue of Organiser titled ‘The new shape of the UPA’ says: “Finally,Indian democracy is of the family...

Written by Suman K Jha |
June 4, 2009 12:20:49 am

The editorial in the latest issue of Organiser titled ‘The new shape of the UPA’ says: “Finally,Indian democracy is of the family,by the family,for the family. It took almost a fortnight for the new Manmohan Singh government to take shape. It is a cabinet of continuity,Congress overconfidence,domineering ambitions and perhaps nothing else. There is no visible newness in the second Manmohan cabinet. Yes,there are 29 new faces with familiar surnames,mostly at the junior level,in the jumbo cabinet. Almost every second Congress MP is a minister. This will certainly satiate the Congressmen’s appetite for power,but what about the leftout allies and hangers-on who hold the government on their unsolicited,unconditional support? The Congress is holding power almost single handed this time. Even the two major allies sharing power – TMC and NCP – are former Congress entities. After the poll outcome,the Congress Party and its bandwagon in the media promised that unfettered by recalcitrant and demanding allies,the new-look Manmohan cabinet will present a picture of clean,purposeful,sensitive and young robustness. What has at last been delivered is old wine in old bottle. Some portfolios have changed hands,not people,some ministries have been bifurcated to accommodate the overarching ambitions of too many aspirants,the Congress high command’s diktat at berth control abandoned mid-way,and yet many states,castes,communities remain unrepresented while some provinces,castes and minorities continued to dominate the scene”.

It adds: “The short shrift given to long-time allies by the Congress is an interesting lesson in political aggression. All the Congress allies who propped up the first Manmohan government in the name of blind anti-BJPism have faced electoral rout and have been ditched by the ruling party. They have paid a heavy price for hanging on to Congress coat-tails. Ditching the allies has nothing to do with presenting a clean image. True. RJD,SP and LJP carry with them a baggage of corrupt,criminal elements who dominated the Manmohan Singh cabinet during his first innings. That is,however,not the real reason for not taking them along this time. If probity in public life was the criteria,many DMK and Congress ministers would not have found a berth in the new cabinet. Expediency and political opportunism played their role here. The Congress has to expand,assert and satisfy its own internal wrangling for power. How will it play out in the long run is the moot point”.

Choose or lose

In an article titled “Is there a case for compulsory voting?” M.S.N. Menon writes: “Once in five years,a citizen is expected to vote for a new government at the Centre. And he is given a day off to do so. If even after this,he has no sense of obligation to vote,then he should be compelled to vote. The alternative is to deny him citizenship. Why is the Indian,more so the middle class,so indifferent to voting? There is a hoary tradition for this. The Hindus lived under Dharma even before a state was founded by them. They were more concerned with society. And when the state was founded,its main aim was to protect the people,not to run a welfare state. Be that as it may,it was not for want of a lamp to guide them that the Hindus middle class has gone the way it has. The Hindu beliefs did give a firm foundation to live an ethical life. The Vedanta calls for the “welfare of all beings”. Hinduism is not against the accumulation of wealth but only as much as is required. Hinduism did not look down upon sensual pleasures. But it was opposed to hedonism. The Puranas were really responsible for shaping the culture and values of the Hindus. The Puranas advocated “friendliness towards all that lives” as the highest ideal. And Ashoka believed that his greatest happiness lay in serving the humanity. Thus,the ideals were already there”.

Compiled by Suman K Jha

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