Indian democracy has been substantially devalued in the last ten years. In Manmohan Singh the government of United Progressive Alliance had a prime minister who had no authority, who did not fight an election and who could not appoint his own cabinet. Manmohan Singh had no political constituency, no leadership skills, no authority and no administrative acumen. History will remember Manmohan Singh as an inefficient prime minister presiding over one of the most corrupt governments in the history of independent India.
The truth is that he was put into this high office because the Congress president Sonia Gandhi could not trust any of the other senior Congress leaders. Manmohan Singh had the prime ministerial chair and Sonia Gandhi had the power.
In the last ten years we had weak and indecisive home ministers, Shivraj Patil and Sushil Kumar Shinde. We had a finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, who opposed market reforms and wilfully derailed the economy. We had a defence minister, AK Antony, who was reluctant to protect the honest and upright army officers and never intervened to stop some of the biggest defence scams happening under his watch.
India’s Oxford educated foreign minister, Salman Khurshid, again a Sonia loyalist, has everything except some diplomatic skills. He once threatened Arvind Kejriwal that he will not be able to go back if he ever entered his constituency. He shouted at the Aajtak reporter who exposed a minor scam connected with his charity and he indignantly vowed in Parliament against America to bring back an Indian diplomat who was briefly detained there.
And there were many other ministers, chief ministers, top civil servants who presided over some of the biggest scams in the history of India, for example the Commonwealth games, 2G scam, Coalgate scam, Adarsh Society, Augusta-Westland helicopter scams and Tetra truck scam.
In the past few weeks some of India’s top analysts from Shekhar Gupta to Pratap Bhanu Mehta have concluded that almost all the top positions in the UPA government were occupied by weak and ineffective politicians whose main qualification was loyalty to Sonia Gandhi and her family.
The world is watching India with some concern. Once deemed as a rising super power India has ended up as a nation cursed by a self-serving political class. Meanwhile, the poor survive under grinding poverty, growing corruption and rising inflation. On the other hand the thriving class of crony capitalists is making mountains of wealth through stealing tax, grabbing farmers land, illegally mining mineral recourses, polluting environment and paying petty wages to the working class.
This election is the biggest test of the wisdom of Indian people. Indian voters will have to set aside their narrow concerns of caste, religion, region and language to elect a strong and effective government. They will have to devise and demonstrate a common vision of India. A divided nation, a fractured verdict, an ineffective government and a powerless leader will be disastrous for the future of India.