The picture has cleared and hopefully we are on course to having a strong, stable government at the Centre. As eventually proved I was jumping the gun when I put the UPA's tally at "220 odd" in my last post. They ended up with 261 and now need the support of just 11 members to stake their claim successfully. So much for the "hung house" noise and a "fractured mandate" fear.
* In latest news I learn that the two raging bulls from UP, always at loggerheads in their state, have decided to support the UPA Govt. "unconditionally", of course for secularism's sake. Now if that's not funny I don't know a funnier joke.
The results of Election-2009 has emphasized two very potent emerging realities for beginners:
1. Rahul Gandhi's elevation to the top league of national politics has been formalized. His decision to go alone in UP and Bihar has proved to be a "goldmine" for the Congress at the same time marginalizing the Lalu-Paswan-Mulayam sphere of influence. Failure in meeting adequate numbers in these states would have drawn flak, instead the prince-in-waiting has pulled off a great coup and the former allies are still smarting under it. The Congress after two decades of irrelevance has again become a force to reckon with in these two pivotal states which send no less than 120 members to the Lok Sabha. Though many see this is as his warming up to the top-job in time for 2014 and resent the subsequent throw back to dynastic politics I personally feel Rahul Gandhi should be a good bet at the helm as he has already earned his stripes - working for his constituency(Amethi) for the past 5 years, campaiging extensively for this election, proposing policy reforms within the party. Moreover young people have responded positively to his "youth inclusive" aam admi ka sipahi vision. Bringing the educated, responsive youth who are in tune with present challenges is a sea-change from the genteel gerontocracy we are so used to. If a single youth icon can inspire more like him to join politics that should be viewed as a welcome change than harp on his credentials, lineage and worst of all- his Spanish girlfriend. I can totally understand the foreboding that grips the swadeshi variants who resented a "foreign national" elevated to the PM's post in 2004 but at this moment of time all this is too much wistful thinking and little else. Our better sense must prevail and so should Junior Gandhi's in accepting the HRD or the I & B portfolio. "You won't have a report-card if you never sit for an exam" and managing a ministry for 5 years is his test for the taking.
2. The people have forcefully rejected the Left tactic of political arm-twisting to influence policy decisions at the Centre. They have had enough of their brand of "Zero Responsibility, Maximum Credit" non-participative brand of politics. But that is neither the sole reason nor the most significant one behind the brutal drubbing they were handed out at the hustings this election. For once, pressing local issues merged with a hitherto unseen wave of popular rage pent up for over a decade and erupted to drive them to the margins of political anonymity. In one single sweep Alimuddin Street and all its mandarins in their bubbles of arrogance were stunned to observe that bastion after bastion their posts had been breached and that too by a party it never deemed fit even to be a worthy adversary - the Trinamool Congress. In Bengal, where the sting will hurt for many years in the future, the Communists have faced their worst defeat till date. Land agitation in Singur and Nandigram, Rizwanur Rahman and Tasleema Nasreen cases being bungled all blended to yield the perfect poison for the apparatchiks. Mamata Banerjee became just the vessel for its delivery. Many people are convinced that Banerjee would have stormed Writer's Building had the State Assembly elections coincided with the Lok Sabha polls. Some are of a different opinion. They say they felt the need to vote for change only because they wanted the Communists to reform their attitude from that of unbearable arrogance which stems from assured vote banks and start to perform on the ground. Long has been their vice-like grip on every union in every field of work. Be it teachers, students, professors, workers, bankers, drivers - everyone figures somewhere in their long and distributed chain of dependence. The "organization" is so vast for its content and feared for its reach that practically "the party" runs the show everywhere - in every corridor in every office. People who grew up in such a system took all of it on their way but in the last four years acts of unchecked audacity by some of its leaders have antagonized the masses and the elite alike. From publicly insulting a sitting High Court judge to shameless pandering to a murderous mob of home-grown extremists they had done it all when elections came knocking at the doors. And everyone had their own score to settle by then. In a prolonged vacuum of opposition the TMC provided a mercurial leader who stood for little political sense but a lot of integrity and character. People voted for her in huge numbers but this only gives her a opportunity to perform and prove that she can actually don the Chief Minister's post in two years time. 2011 may not seem so close but it will surely be a very close battle considering the Communists pull up their socks in time. Otherwise history might just play lazy, go ahead and repeat itself.
Meanwhile, the people will be watching. To keep them on their toes.
* other trends might be appended to the post as and when memory surfaces and news emerge.
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