D. N. Bezboruah
In 2014, when the tion voted the BJP-led NDA government to power, it was seeking a change from the Congress-led UPA government largely because it had had it fill of a family party, a dystic party. The oldest political party of the country that had degenerated into a dystic clique was told in no uncertain terms what the tion thought of it. The Congress that had ruled India for the longest time and had had yet another stint of ten years under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who could not get elected to the Lok Sabha and had to be repeatedly elected to the Rajya Sabha from Assam (which was not his home State), was badly drubbed in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014. It maged to win just 44 seats in the Lok Sabha with 545 seats. The tion was clearly sending out a message to the Indian tiol Congress that it had had enough of a family party.
So the NDA government led by the BJP, is in power, and there is precious little that the Congress can do about it except to disrupt proceedings in Parliament. However, the question before us is not what the Congress can do to go on disrupting Lok Sabha proceedings but rather what the BJP should be doing not just to remain in power but to get re-elected with an even better majority in 2019 and bring to an end a gasping dystic entity called the Indian tiol Congress. In my own humble opinion, this is what the BJP should be doing to ensure that a dystic political party does not return to power again.
The BJP must do everything possible to assure the people that the government intends to take everyone along to where it is going. It must convince people that it is an inclusive government by evincing greater concern for the unorganized sector. So far, all union governments have given the distinct impression that they exist for the government and for those connected with the government and appointed by the government. All Central governments so far have ignored the largest segment of the population, mely, the unorganized sector to which the majority of Indians belong. Yet this is a sector that has always been deprived of fair wages and salaries, allowances, old age pensions, medical benefits and other social security benefits that government employees enjoy. We also tend to forget that it is the unorganized sector that is far more productive. Any government that wakes up to the unfair deal that the unorganized sector has had over the decades is bound to receive greater support from the electorate. While the present government is dedicated to the task of achieving a greater level of inclusion, it must be able to convince the people that the Congress cannot afford to be inclusive because it has long been obsessed with the task of excluding all leaders from the top positions except those from the dysty. The BJP must emphasize that it can never be a family party and is thus far more democratic than the Congress. Will the Congress ever permit anyone outside the family to be Prime Minister again if it comes back to power? It is very unlikely.
The BJP is required to be a better political party than other political parties since it is in power now. This is a very difficult task, considering that leaders of all political parties are drawn from more or less the same level of society, and share similar ambitions about wealth and power and rarely also about service to the country. The BJP too has its quota of greedy and corrupt legislators like any other political party. So, if it has dreams of returning to power in the elections of 2019, for the next ten years, all BJP legislators will have to strive hard to be cleaner than legislators of other political parties. In three years from now, this could become a good habit. If BJP legislators can be clean for the next three years, the battle for a cleaner Lok Sabha can be won. The Swatch Bharat Abhiyan must not be confined to roads and railway stations or just to the physical level; it must be applied to the mind as well.
It is important to ensure that Union ministers who have not won Lok Sabha elections contest bye-elections to get elected or are made members of the Rajya Sabha. We should not have ministers who continue in office without being members of either the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha.
The BJP must have made promises that it has not been able to keep. No political party worth its salt should make promises that it cannot keep or promises that are fabulously expensive. Where is the need for four additiol bridges over the Brahmaputra at one go? There has been no demand from the people for four more bridges over the river. The people of Assam would have been happy if the Bogibeel bridge had been completed in time. With such grandiose promises being made, people will turally think that four additiol bridges over the Brahmputra are being contemplated because the outlay on them will provide huge sums that can be diverted to private coffers even if the bridges are eventually built at highly extended outlays. Such impressions in the minds of the people can have adverse effects on a ruling party that already has an uphill task of sustaining itself for a second term in power.
The BJP must strive to bring backward States to the level of advanced States as expeditiously as possible. The concept of special category States must be ended. States like Assam have been special category States for 46 years without the special category status having done any good to us except making a lot of easy money available to privileged parasites without the need for any work. The rest of the country look down upon the special category States as “begging bowl” States and hold them responsible for a lower pace of development for the country as a whole. There is no need for us to carry on the stigma of being backward for another half-a-century.
The BJP should strive to cut out the frills and waste of the government’s mode of functioning. Let us have a lean administration that exists for the people instead of existing solely for the government. Such governments can never really become inclusive in the real sense of the term. A logical starting point could be the huge number of vehicles that accompany chief ministers every time they travel by road even within State capitals. People recall how Mayawati used to move with cavalcades of over 100 vehicles every time she went out of Lucknow by road when she was Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Even smaller cavalcades of 18 or 23 vehicles are crude and achronistic status symbols that need to be dispensed with by democratic governments. And chief ministers who believe that security lies in numbers are sadly mistaken. The security provided by four tough and well-trained guards with razor-sharp reflexes is better any day than the security that two score pot-bellied PSOs can provide. The number of trips that ministers and bureaucrats from the States make to New Delhi for meetings with higher-ups is another major source of waste in government that can be drastically cut in these days of highly improved communication systems.
The NDA government should set an example in giving merit and competition their proper places if it is looking for real progress rather than the variety that governments are able to create for people with colour advertisements. We committed the cardil sin of extending the ten years of reservations that the Constitution-framers had given us and then turning reservations into a major instrument of electoral politics. The mess is there for all to see. Any sensible government will see the merit of merit and competition, and strive to reverse the losses that so many years of reservations have wrought on our psyche and society.
Crimils must be punished firmly and fast, and there should be no exceptions made on any account. The prevailing culture of the government of one political party taking a lenient view of crimes committed by politicians of another party because they expect the same considerations from other political parties when they are out of power, must come to an end. This has turned the Legislature into a sort of asylum for crimils and lawbreakers.
The NDA government must give inventers and innovators their due place in society instead of allowing bureaucrats to bypass them and to continue to ape the ways of the West.
The NDA government should give education and healthcare the attention they deserve if it is looking for an intelligent and healthy India of tomorrow.