Though Lok Sabha elections are four months away, and the official notification is likely to come around 22 February after the Parliament session is over, in a way electioneering has already started. The BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate is going from State to State but it is observed now that he has become repetitive and he has hardly anything new to say.
On the other hand the Congress has suddenly reinvented itself and their Vice President has suddenly started becoming very aggressive and looks very passionate. However it appears that the Congress has put his act together very late its too little too late. It will not be able to impact the Lok Sabha elections being held in May. If Rahul Gandhi would have started three years ago, and in fact when Anna Hazare was sitting on fast at Ramlila Maidan Rahul Gandhi did make an intervention in the Lok Sabha to say that the Jan Lokpal should be made a constitutional authority, but then he left it at that. Either he was under pressure from the Congress President or from whoever but at that time if he could have taken that line which he is taking today, I think things could have been different in two or two and half years. After all he is from the young generation and if he talks of change in the system it would carry credibility with the people. But having wasted these two years with more and more scams coming to the surface, he has of late taken action, one on that ordinance to allow corrupt MLA’s or MP’s to continue an office, which he got the Government to desist from doing. Or on the Jan Lokpal which he got hurriedly passed. All these actions are in the right directions but not enough, the public is now not convinced that the Congress is serious.
On the other hand the BJP has its own limited electorate — in the south and east it is not there. So even if they do very well in the northern States or Gujarat etc., the tally will stop at 170- 175. In this situation their nominating a Prime Ministerial candidate will seem incongruous and funny. If they really feel that the seats are coming because of Modi then how will they make Modi Prime Minister without support of 272 people.
On the other hand the conventional wisdom is that the seats which come are not because of Modi or X or Y or Z, it is because of the BJP cadre and the anti-incumbency of the Congress. Rajasthan is a case in point. 162 seats, 163 seats the BJP have got is because of anti-incumbency, and not so much of Ashok Gehlot’s inadequacy but because of the Central Government’s image. And whether people like it or not the root cause of people’s discontent today is inflation. Inflation hits everybody. As somebody said inflation is the most pernicious form of taxation. It is the only taxation which is levied without Parliament’s sanction. After all, for a person with a fixed salary, whether he or she is paying tax or he or she is paying higher money for his commodities, what difference it makes to him or her. Inflation is a silent taxation which kills the small people. Today I think the biggest problem is inflation and even Rahul Gandhi has nothing to suggest in that direction. So everything is okay. Politics is as usual.
And in the whole system another new thing has come up — the Aam Aadmi Party. What Mr. Kejriwal is saying is that there is hardly any difference between the Congress and the BJP. On which point he is right but there is no serious discussion on what kind of change he wants in the system. Unfortunately the press also does not do an analysis. One Minister of his cabinet went and asked the police to take some action and the whole thing was blown out of proportion. The issue is not whether the Minister should have gone or not gone. The issue is what is the procedure? If wrong things are taking place, how do you tackle it? Mr. Kejriwal has made an open charge that SHOs collect money and it is distributed right up to the top. This is not a question of inquiry. Has anybody denied it? The Home Minister of the country should first deny that this charge is false. Nobody is doing that. Why? Because there is some trouble somewhere. In Delhi specially the police is in dichotomy. The Chief Minster doesn’t have control on the police. The police is under the Lieutenant Governor, the central Home Ministry, unlike in Mumbai where there is single authority, not dual authority. I am not suggesting that the Chief Minister should have control over the police because I don’t know what are the Delhi procedures. But one thing is definite – that the Delhi Police is lax. So much crime is happening. Of course there is population, there is fortune, there is money — crime has to be there but not to the extent and inaction of the police. SHOs are notorious in Delhi for inaction or for action which is taken on bias. It is like the emperor’s new clothes. What Kejriwal is saying is nothing new. Everybody knows it and he may have his moment of glory by sitting on dharna, etc etc., but this isn’t going to solve the country’s problems. Senior people in the country, maybe the Prime Minister, should set up a committee, there should be some changes in the system to give better delivery to the people. He can begin with the Delhi Police – okay, take this opportunity that one Minister has brought this to light that even at the place where a crime appears to be taking place, the police looks uninterested in taking action. Again we have all the civil society groups, top lawyers of the country, the Opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha — they are all finding fault with that Law Minister. He may be the Law Minister but he is also a citizen of India, he is also an MLA from that constituency. Okay, his method may be wrong, but let’s come to the substance. Is there a drug racket? Its all right to say that you are racist, but if it is a fact that Ugandans and Nigerians are dealing in drugs, then taking appropriate action that is not racism. The whole problem is that in the last 10 -15 years the system has broken down. And that breakdown is institutionalised. Who is to tell whom? Every SHO is the same. Every Commissioner who comes to Delhi is the same. It is the Prime Minister again who is the person who can talk to the Home Minister or may be should change the Home Minister, to see that at least because it is the national capital. That 16 December rape of year before last was there after that so many rapes have taken place in Delhi. Unless some action is taken or seen to be taken, Rahul Gandhi’s effort will be of no use.