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Sunday, May 17, 2009

General elections

The people have spoken. Vox populi, vox dei!

I only wish to put on record that I am delighted with the results, not because I have ever been a diehard Congress supporter, not because I share the euphoria over the likelihood of Rahul Gandhi taking over soon as prime minister and things like that, but because:

1. It was high time that India’s future stopped being held at ransom by a motley group of half-baked, johnny-come-lately regional parties which have no vision, no significantly discernible goals beyond the gargantuan selfish ambitions of their very crude and petty leaders, no long-term plans, no clear understanding, even, of the needs and troubles facing India as a nation (rather than a congeries of sub-national identities…), and
2. It was more than essential and urgent that the rotten, sick, too-big-for-its-boots Left Front was cut down to size at the national level, and got a wake-up call at the state level in West Bengal. If they still don’t press the panic button, if they still don’t realise that the bell is tolling for them, if they still don’t eat humble pie, get back to square one and start retrospecting over, and correcting, everything that has gone badly wrong with their brand of politicking over the last three decades, they will richly deserve the drubbing and disaster that is waiting for them in the 2011 state Assembly elections (please see what I wrote here, especially the open letter I wrote to The Telegraph congratulating as well as warning the Buddhadev Bhattacharjee government after they won the state elections last time round).

I wish Mamata Banerjee good luck – she has earned it – and pray that statesmanlike good sense will prevail on her. I shall now sit back to watch what kind of alliance is cobbled together by Madam Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh-ji to form the new government at the centre, and what sort of programme it chalks out for itself. Accordingly, I may write postscripts to this blogpost every now and then. Watch this space. And questions and arguments are welcome, of course…


Subhasis Graham Mukherjee said...

the peoples' verdict, probably for the first time, has ignored regionalism, castism and communalism (no impact of 26/11)- to reward nothing but performance.

I have to express my admiration at the choice of Indians of their PM- re-electing one of the most accomplished and best person for the job. His resume is probably the best any successful politician and/or a person dedicated to public service ever had.

His services to the country as a Finance Minister has been revolutionary, specially his economic liberalization efforts.

In these tough economic times, Indians have made the best possible choice to get out of the recession and put India back on the track of years of super growth and boom it's seeing.

the verdict and choice speaks volume of the collective intelligence and judgment of Indian people and shows much hope for the future.

the Indian Stock Market rallied on this news to such a super-hot state that trading had to be halted.

Jai Ho!

Tanmoy said...

Dear Suvroda,

I pray things work out well for our Nation. As far as Bengal is concerned, we have to wait and watch. I think if Mamata Banerjee is the only option, so be it. I would keep my finger's crossed.

In fact, I wish the Assembly elections in WB to happen sooner otherwise I fear the law and order situation in WB may worsen.



Harman said...


I echo your sentiments. I have never been a congress supporter either. Over the years, congress had become a party of sycophants and their self-entitled masters. However, at this point in history, Indians have collectively shown prudent judgement by awarding performance first and foremost. India stands at a critical junction in history, where the prize is hers to lose. It is crucial that in the forthcoming days, months and years ahead, capable, educated and sincere people are at the helm of India Inc.
There is hope, and I am encouraged and optimistic.

Sayan Datta said...

I think the left lost a lot of credibility when it withdrew support from the UPA and that too on an issue the poor voter understands next to nothing about; and that is where I feel it distanced itself from the masses. Even the urban voter found it difficult to understand all the hue and cry surrounding the nuclear deal and especially whether it was justified to take the extreme step. I remember how Mamata was criticized when she quit her job as the rail minister making an issue out of a non issue only to be able to contest the state assembly polls. The left, I am afraid hasn't fared any better.
The Singur Nandigram debacle and the ruling party's failure to deal with the same and many unresolved decades old problems still looming large on the horizon probably validate the claim that this government doesn't deliver! Of course, I agree with you Sir, that the left in Bengal had grown too vain and arrogant and they needed a rude shock to be roused from the deep slumber they had been in. Mamata didn't play the fair game throughout, but that is beside the point.
In a strange way I am finding it amusing to see how the left deals with failure. With the newspapers reporting a rift among the senior members of the party, accusations flying, Somnath Chatterjee publicly lashing out at Karat, and the Chief Minister offering to resign (so the channels say), a slinging match seems to be on the cards and the left certainly doesn't seem to be a very happy family.
However, inspite of all it's shortcomings I voted for the CPI(M) this time around simply because I am petrified by the thought of the uncouth, short-sighted, fickle minded Mamata coming to the helm. Only a responsible government coupled with a responsible opposition can bring back the glory days of the state. Will this dream ever become reality? I wonder…
Sayan Datta

Suvro Chatterjee said...

When ever was the game played fairly in this country since the days of the Mahabharata, Sayan? ... all I have said is that it is a good thing that the CPI(M) has started getting a taste of its own medicine. I hold no brief for Mamata Banerjee - though I must say I admire her for her tenacity and her singlemindedness and her guts. Do you have any idea what it takes to be the Opposition personified to a party like the CPI(M) without a break for almost three decades? If such a person does not deserve a chance, a day in the sun, who does? Certainly not the likes of me!

Anonymous said...

I like your inference from Mahabharata, Suvro-da. Its really apt and so very true.

Sayan Datta said...

Following your post, the subsequent discussions and a little bit of contemplation on my part, I have come to realize that it was naive of me to confuse politics with personal likes and dislikes as indeed it was to write off a person even before giving her a chance to prove herself. I agree with you that power can change Mamata for the better (she might already have, if that interview was anything to go by!).
I wish to clarify however, that the above will have no bearing upon my political preference(s); but following your little eye-opener (for which I thank you heartily) I will certainly think twice before passing judgments (which I hope will become sounder and more refined in the years to come).
Thanks once again,
Sayan Datta

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I am looking for arguments, Sayan!

JM said...

I had a written my opinion to the Telegraph... am just putting that through.

I am one of those Bengalis who is at present studying outside the state of Bengal and am generally concerned about the situation that is prevalent here now. Closure of the manufacturing industries, faltering services sector with economic recession, strikes at the whims of any party, Singur, Nandigram… so many instances which has showed our state in poor light and defied obvious logic.

This Election has provided a change in the proceedings, and do I appreciate that? Well, at this point of time I am optimistic but pretty apprehensive. It is clear that the people have given a clear mandate of change, that they expect something new, something better than what is there at the moment. Though while interacting with the people I have got an idea, that there is no good option, but you have to choose a lesser worse one! Well, I was deliberating on this and found this hypothesis to be relatively true.

Trinamool Congress has been a fighter, I am not questioning their ability to survive but have they acquired the ability to sustain the responsibility that the people have entrusted them with? It’s a big question and only time will tell.

I am presently in Gujarat and it’s the signs of a well governed state. No matter what political affiliations you have, you have to appreciate the seriousness in development that the state has indulged in. The infrastructure is fabulous, people are happy and if you are under the impression that still the echoes of the riots are present, you would be mistaken… I admit it was a serious blot on the state government, but they have done enough for the people to look forward to! I am pointing that this is what we want from the people elected from Bengal, that instead of harping on the inabilities of the former government they take the responsibility to bring about the change.

I also hope that the parties understand that bringing about the so called “stars” is not the way to go about doing good for the people. As the “Jaagore” campaign emphasized that “desh chalane ka job” is one of the biggest privileges of a democracy and the parties should honour that. It is the responsibility of the parties to select people who are dedicated and motivated enough for this cause, and doesn’t happen to think this as a part time job for fame and money.

I feel hopeful of the UPA government though, which has been proactive in my opinion and has the most potent capability to pull our country out of the economic recession, which is the foremost challenge for the nation. They have initiated measures and the fiscal and monetary policies implemented will come around and start producing results. I am though a tad concerned with the security situation with turmoil going on in our neighbouring countries, though I believe our ministers have learnt their lesson after the Mumbai carnage.

From the opinion I have expressed, I hope it is clear that I have tried to voice a neutral opinion, a few concerns that would plague any ordinary citizen’s mind. I am hopeful that the members of parliament usher in a new phase of development and growth in the nation, including Bengal!

Santanu Sinha Chaudhuri said...

I broadly agree with your views, particularly the necessity not to feel euphoric about the future. But any other result would have made me despondent, and I am happy that that hasn't happpened.

What amazes me is the nearly uniform verdict delivered by the people of India. I think it is the most significant verdict after 1977. A large section of our population are not familiar with letters, but they are not politically illiterate. They do punish when politcians cross the limit. I think India wouldn't have given George Bush a second term.

Shilpi said...

Suvro da,
One of the things I’m relieved about is that the BJP and its allies did not come to power at the centre, and it’s hardly like I’m a maniacal Congress supporter either….
But I’d really like to respond to the previous comment if I may.
1. A well governed state includes concerns including but not limited to those of purely economic development and growth. Long before the BJP came to power in Gujarat in the mid 90s – Gujarat was one of the few states in India, which had promoted entrepreneurial activities related to primarily economic improvement aimed at sustainability and self-sufficiency but which had far-reaching social implications (people may remember the contributions of one gentleman by the name of Mr. Verghese Kurien).

2. I’ll hold my tongue about the “infrastructure being fabulous” under the BJP government but I really do have to wonder which folks are happy and similarly who are the people who do not live under the shadow of the riots of 2002? Possibly those who are dead and gone. Those who did lose their friends and family are not likely to forget in a hurry. How many common people have you talked with, I wonder, to come to the conclusion that there are no remaining echoes from 2002? And if the rest of the people in Gujarat and in India can be made to forget about 2002, then maybe we should agree that people for the most part can be made to forget about killing and brutality as long as it does not affect them directly.

3. The BJP government has done enough you say for the people to look forward to what exactly? To enjoy the “fabulous infrastructure” provided by the state till another religious riot breaks out and destroys the lives of the poorest and the most marginalized members? How has the BJP “made up” for what it could have prevented? I really am curious. From what I know there was not even any apology that was issued by the state – and not in 7 years.

4. Some folks say that the BJP as a party must deal with what happened in Gujarat. That they must face Modi’s involvement. But I guess some people think that the state government has already done what it could to make amends, and that other states should follow Gujarat’s lead….

5. I know that there are many who compare the Gujarat riots to the Sikh riots in the 80s…and many compare and contrast the two in terms of which was more severe and which one was more inhumane as if there is some index along which such things can be measured. And I have indeed noticed that the commentator has mentioned that the riots were “a serious blot” - but I am rather shocked to see that one can now safely assume that all “that” can now be brushed under the carpet what with the development.
That’s all for now….

santanu Chatterjee said...

The devil is in the details.Vote percentage of Congress is 28.6% and that of BJP is 18.8% i.e. down by 3.5% on an all india basis. So the point is people have not rejected local parties at all. In fact the vote percentage of local parties with leaders having so called 'gargantuan selfish ambitions'(as if the leaders of national parties do not have that) have gone up by 1.5% than that of last election. BJP seems to be the major loser. It is they who have lost their pie to the local and regional parties. Moreover I really could not find any thing progressive about UPA, they are yet to finish the road network that NDA had started. The excuse was there: We do not see anything right in Left, so we cannot do anything at the centre. Moreover, it is interesting to note that Biju Patnaik has swept the Orissa poll. When everybody is stating 'good governance' whose governance are they talking of:State or Centre? That question has to be answered. Even in the LS election it is the state government that matters. Another interesting thing that i would like to point out is that Congress has been aided by innumerable dummies, eg. MNS(Maharastra Navnirman Sena) in Maharastra. The fact that Vilasrao Deshmukh allowed Western Maharastra including Mumbai to burn for 2 days was to ruin the prospects of Shiv Sena and BJP. A major chunk of 'son of soil' vote has gone to MNS costing BJP+NDA at least 10 seats. In fact after the result in North Mumbai constituency the Congress workers simply hugged and thanked the MNS workers stating Bhau tumcha mule jinkle (Our brother won because of you).
Source of statistics : http://www.zeenews.com/news532875.html

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Hurried reading, Santanu! I did not write that the regional parties have 'lost the elections' in a big way, I only expressed satisfaction that they have lost much of their clout at the Centre, at least for now - which, I suppose, is beyond argument.

And unless ghosts have been fighting elections, Biju Patnaik could not have swept the polls in Orissa, seeing that he has been dead for a long time. You meant Navin, of course. Hurried writing, too. Don't be in such a hurry!

wannabe said...

A late comment (because for the last few weeks, I have been in my village, away from it all, where even the almighty internet does not reach! I will be in this electronic wilderness for two more weeks.)

Like many of us here, I am delighted with the election results. The Indian voter has demonstrated that he has a mind of his own and that he cannot be taken for granted. It is even more gratifying that the regional and communal parties ave been shown their place. And several good candidates have made it.

Having said that, I must add that Man Mohan Singh's delay in announcing the cabinet (Mark my words, not HIS cabinet!) has disappointed me. Compulsions of coalition politics made him induct persons he did not want and allot them portfolios they cannot be trusted with.

I am sure there are several like me who are happy that the patriarch Karunanidhi has only three wives, for the cabinet would have to be expanded proportional to the size of his family! (The son through one was given a berth in the centre and another in the state; the daughter through the third is offended that she has been ignored!) His nephew and several infamous cohorts had to be accommodated too.

My sympathies are with the likes of Dr Shashi Tharoor whose diplomacy will be put to the ultimate test in the cabinet meetings where he would be sitting with goons like Azhagiri (Tharoor has to be thankful for small mercies, though: he has been spared the need for interaction with Shibu Soren! At least for now, till the next cabinet reshuffle.)

The voter knows that Man Mohan would have performed better in the first term, had it not been marred by the 'outside support of the left' (because in doing so, they held him at ransom). The voter who has given him a second chance where the PM does not have to rely on the Left has a lot of expectations. Unless Man Mohan lives up to his expectations, he will have to live with the guilt of not having performed. I hope I am proved wrong, but he seems to have succumbed in Phase I - cabinet formation.

Tailpiece: It is for consideration whether political 'leaders' should be asked to confine their fiefdom to their respective states when giving berths to their offspring.