UPA-II A Year of Misgovernance
The UPA Government in its second tenure has completed its’ first year. The first year after a General Election is usually a year of enthusiasm. Ironically, UPA-II’s first year has been a year of disappointment. It is a year devoid of any achievement; it is a year of mis-governance, incoherence, corruption and chaos.
The only achievement of the UPA that it can boast of is the fact that it continued in power. The UPA had a slender majority in the Lok Sabha. It is in minority in the Rajya Sabha. Its’ majority in the Lok Sabha appears to be further eroding because of its arrogance in dealing with certain erstwhile allies. The continuation in power is not because of any exceptional performance or any popular support. It is merely because of compromises it made with certain allies on issues of corruption and its management of certain vulnerable sections of the Opposition.
The Trinamool Congress has an important Ministry allocated to it. However, governance is not the
priority of the Trinamool. The family divisions within the DMK extend to sharing of economic spoils. The Prime Minister choosing to look the other way when the monumental fraud in the allocation of 2G spectrum is pointed out has helped to cement the UPA-DMK ties. The vulnerable section of the opposition comprising the BSP, Samajwadi Party and the RJD, has been managed by the misuse of CBI. The Cut Motion of 2010 and the Vote of Confidence of 2008 established the relevance of the CBI in managing these parties whose leaders are vulnerable on account of cases of corruption against them. It is this political management that the UPA can claim as its achievement.
Price Rise and mis-management of the economy have been the hallmark of the UPA-II. Throughout the first year of the UPA-II, the nation has been informed by the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister and the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission that the prices and more particularly the food prices will moderate shortly. However, the first year has seen the wholesale prices index hovering close to a double digit and the food price inflation between 17-19 per cent. The mis-management of the economy is apparent from the fact that foodgrain is rotting in government godowns but the supply side problem in the market remains, thereby giving a free run to food prices.
The first year of UPA-II has witnessed the abandonment of India pursuing an independent foreign policy. The firmness with which India conventionally stood up to international pressures on strategic issues seems to be missing. The basis of the Shram-El-Sheikh joint declaration was contrary to the spirit of January 2004 Communication. The UPA government’s policy is that irrespective of whether Pakistan stops the user of its territory for terrorist activities against India or not, the composite dialogue shall go on. This is now the basis of the Foreign Secretary level talks as also the renewed initiative of dialogue between the two Foreign Ministers. This is contrary to the conventional stand India has always adopted. India’s role at Copenhagen in the Ministerial Conference on climate change was yet another illustration of India succumbing to American pressure. The Civil Nuclear Liability Bill has been pressed into service essentially under pressure from the US even though in the context of only public sector units in India being allowed to operate nuclear plants prima facie makes the Bill redundant and irrelevant in India.
Maoist Violence and Cross-border Terrorism
India appears to be weakening its position in pressurising Pakistan on the issue of cross-border terrorism. The level of cooperation India has received on the 26/11 trial from Pakistan is dismal. The fact that investigative and intelligence agencies could not discover the details of David Hadley on their own, speaks poorly of the state of our intelligence agencies. The 26/11 trial has resulted only in one conviction i.e. that of Ajmal Kasab. With regard to others either we have no cooperation or no evidence. Obviously, such a massive attack could not have been planned only by one man.
The country has witnessed a huge increase in the extent of Maoist insurgency. UPA-I was unaware of the existence of the problem or its possible solution. The Home Ministry under UPA-II showed initial signs of a more aggressive approach in dealing with Maoist violence. However, despite the Opposition support to this approach, the UPA has weakened the fight against Maoists and has created a national confusion on the issue. The UPA has clearly lost the willingness to fight the Maoist violence. Development in the long term is certainly the response but there can be no development in a state of anarchy. It is essential to contain violence and anarchy.
UPA-I witnessed the slow down of development of National Highways. This was on account of corruption in the matter of award of contracts etc. UPA-II has seen the Prime Minister looking the other way when the National Exchequer suffered a loss of about Rs 60,000 crores in the allocation of 2G spectrum. The Prime Minister now chooses to look the other way when serious allegations of corruption are made.
Incoherence of Ministers and Congress leaders almost on a daily basis is yet another characteristic of the UPA. The Home Minister pleads helplessness when confronted with attack from within his own party. He has said on record that even though there is a two-pronged strategy to fight Maoists, one pronge, namely security has been weakened by the recent developments. Ministerial lobbying for an IPL franchise or for Chinese companies has now become the acceptable behaviour of the UPA.
There is an assault on various institutions, which are essential for the effective functioning of a democracy. The unashamed misuse of CBI is a permanent feature of the UPA governance. When the Left was out to withdraw support in the fifth year of UPA-I, dilution of the CBI case was used as a tool to get the support of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Samajwadi Party. When the UPA looked threatened with the Cut Motion during UPA-II in 2010, dilution of the CBI cases against BSP supremo Ms Mayawati was done to win support. The RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav is willing to repay the debt in the management of CBI case for possessing disproportionate assets. The UPA-I saw tinkering of the Election Commission through partisan appointment. UPA-II has witnessed both authorised and unauthorised telephone tapping in order to manage and tackle the political opposition. Lobbists continue to operate inside and outside the government. Recent evidence about their involvement even in portfolio allocation is new low for Indian politics.
By Arun Jaitley