The Message Just Gets Louder



Earlier, we had seen it in state elections. Then, we saw it in Bangladesh.
Now, Indian electorate has most decisively proved that good governance does
matter in a democracy. Those parties, leaders, alliances that govern wellor at
least try to do thatget peoples mandate. The decisive victory of the United
Progressive Alliance has surprised most political pundits. There has been lots
of analyses on what made it possible. I am surely not an expert on that. But one
thing is for sure, the regional equations notwithstanding, people have by and
large voted for leaders who ensured and talked development. Take for example,
the victory of Naveen Pattnaiks Biju Janata Dal in Orissa. The traditional
wisdom said a last minute break-up between BJP and BJD would help Congress and
here was an almost Congress wave that was sweeping the entire country. But
Pattnaik proved everyone wrong and recorded a landslide victory. It was purely
based on his track record of governance.

Well, when it comes to track record of actual governance, the NDA was
comparable, if not better than the UPA. Where they lost out last time and this
time are in not making those the political issues rather picking up some
jingoistic slogans which did not mean anything to anyone. Last time, it was
India Shining, which clearly did not mean anything to a lot of people. This
time, strangely, it was completely negative, attacking the prime minister Dr
Manmohan Singh personally, as well making issues out of trivial matters such as
hanging of Afzal Guru. Now, how does it matter to a common citizen whether a
convicted criminal gets hanged today or after a few months? Yes, they have in
the past won elections on such issues. But times have changed. Indian citizens
are now much more sensitized about their duties and responsibilities. And attack
on someone like Dr Singh made them feel that BJP has nothing better to talk
about.

Shyamanuja Das

In reality, however, it had. BJPs manifesto talked of the same development
issues as Congress. But their leaders never talked about them to the public,
thinking emotional issues would appeal more to the voters.

Take BJPs IT Agenda, which was part of its manifesto. It is one of the best
thought-out ICT gameplan that we have seen globally. It had some of the best
vision statements, some of the most realistic ways to achieve those visions and
its quota of elements that would have appealed to the common people.

Let me outline a few of them. The manufacturing agenda that they had was one
of the most integrated and thought-out plans. While its populist face was a Rs
10,000 laptop, if done properly, that could ensure a huge manufacturing industry
taking shape in India. And this is something which we have been discussing for
years. Same with the rural job creation. While it might have been a little too
ambitious, it was fairly realistic and all the challenges and obstacles were
thought through.

But after a high profile press conference that featured all senior party
leaders including president Rajnath Singh and prime ministerial candidate LK
Advani, no leader ever mentioned that in any public meetings, or television
debates.

Now, this reads too much like an analysis of why BJP lost. But that is not my
objective here. I am more interested in what happens to those ideas and plans?

Dr Manmohan Singh is not a traditional politician. He would do well to borrow
some of the ideaseven if they rebrand it, which the BJP had also done in some
cases in their IT Vision. This time, he has a much clearer mandate and it would
not be too difficult to implement policies.

The author is Editor of Dataquest.
shyamanujad@cybermedia.co.in

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