Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Next Prime Minister Must Lead The Nation

Updated: May 25, 2013 4:57 pm

The anointment of Rabri Devi as chief minister of Bihar was a historic event in the functioning of Indian democracy. It gave enough indication to the nation what harm ‘politics without principles and ‘defects of elections’ could inflict on the country. The other example, obviously more devastating and disturbing, is the appointment of the prime minister of India in 2004 and 2009. In both these instances were endorsements of the spiritual doctrine that ‘every soul is divine’ and there is no limit to human ingenuity. Rabri was an expert home maker and Manmohan Singh an accomplished academician. Both of them had to take instructions from a single power-point and a huge support system created to run the show. Nitish Kumar would be the right person to know the extent of damage inflicted on Bihar. The next prime minister of India shall have a tough task restoring back the credibility of the system of governance and the declining stature of India amongst its neighbours and also the nations which were visibly enamoured of the 21st century being India’s century and its demographic advantage. The print and electronic media are busy 24×7 discussing the possibilities of various media-identified aspirants. One has yet to come across any detailed analytical discussion on what are the aspirations of the people from their prime minister and what is the public perception of the personality traits of the future prime minster. Much could really be learnt from the people’s assessment of the Indian prime ministers who have adorned the seat of power. It could help project the persona of the future prime minister which aam aadami would like to see in the saddle.

People of India loved Jawaharlal Nehru. His visits were great occasions and Congressmen were not assigned duties to ensure audience. Yes he had sacrifices to his credit, when he left his affluent home and opted to be part of freedom struggle, it was pure sacrifice and patriotism. That he became the first prime minister was a consequence of various circumstances. No ICS officer could consider himself superior to Nehru whose intellectual capabilities, political acumen, command over language and comprehensions were extraordinary. He too was a human being susceptible to human follies. The tribe of those questioning his policies has been steadily increasing He faltered in his handling of the Kashmir issue and taking it to UN was a disaster. It was a consequence of his distaste for the advice of Sardar Patel and his liking for certain leftist elements. Whenever a list of the Prime ministers India never had’ shall be attempted by historians, Sardar Patel shall occupy the prime position. Nehru’s left-oriented inclinations inflicted great damage to his own image and to his loving relationship with his people when China not only proved his perceptions wrong but also humiliated him. He could not anticipate the great danger that was looming large and on which he was often cautioned by those whom he considered as his adversaries! He could not take a bold decision on Tibet and ignored the public opinion and even historic facts on the issue. Lal Bahadur Shastri shall be remembered for his frugality, devotion to duty and the courage of conviction. He restored the psyche of India that was greatly damaged by Chinese invasion of 1962. Shastri was embodiment of a prime minster who lived a value-based life and adhered to democratic values and principles with total sincerity and transparency

A very different era began with Indira Gandhi. She grew up, created a place for herself in the hearts of people, dealt firmly with Pakistan and changed the geography of the sub-continent. Under the influence of the known non-constitutional centre of power; she lost touch with the people, imposed emergency and was thrown out of power. The constituents of the successor government that came to power in 1977 headed by a strict Gandhian Morarji Desai indulged in petty squabbles which were intensely disliked by the people. Internal contradictions and personal likings and disliking killed a great experiment in Indian democracy. Indira Gandhi’s return in 1980 was dramatic and a great lesson for those who wish to understand the finer nuances of democracy. Capacity to take decisions with courage, creating rapport with people through steps like Pokharan-I, Privy Purse abolition, bank nationalization were major positives outcomes of her tenure. Young Rajiv Gandhi came to power under tragic circumstances after the assassination of Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984.

He focused on education, got a new education policy framed and ushered in the era of computers and ICT. He faltered in Sri Lanka policy and the Bofors scandal resulted in his downfall. VP Singh’s Mandal Strategy was a political maneuvering to encounter certain pressures. He raised high hopes amongst the people of India but could not manage the political contradiction and had to quit within a year. No one expected much from the stop-gap coalition’s arrangements that brought Chandrasekhar, Deve Gawda and IK Gujral on the coveted seat. Gujral stooped all the covert security operations in Pakistan resulting in great damage to the India’s information base on the neighbor’s nefarious activities which are now hurting the nation in so many ways. PV Narsimha Rao, a seasoned politician catapulted to the position because of circumstances in 1991, headed a minority government the compulsions of which forced him to take steps like the MPLADS and saving his government by bribing the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MP’s. He shall be remembered for ushering in the era of liberalization and giving a break to Manmohan Singh in political arena. The fall of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1999 by a single vote shall be remembered for the political honesty of the PM and dishonesty of the Congress Party which flew the serving Chief Minister of Orissa to vote against the government as he had technically not submitted his resignation as a Lok Sabha MP!.People brought back Vajpayee. He could resist all external pressures imposed after the Nuclear Test and responded from a point of strength after the attack on the Parliament of India engineered by Pakistan. His handling of the Plane hijacking and sending back the terrorists in an Indian plane did not receive people’s approval. Dr. Manmohan Singh shall always be considered the personal choice of one individual and not even of his party. He certainly was not the choice of the people of India. People often refer to his certificate of residence in Assam and unwillingness to contest Lok Sabha elections.

Media and probably the political parties are discussing individuals who could be considered ‘in the race’. The last nine years have created a vacuum before the nation as the government is surviving on external support of regional parties which keep on criticizing it on every possible occasion. The prime minister often takes shelter under the compulsions of coalition government.’ People would like the prime minister lead the nation and not be led by some other point of power. The Prime minister of this country should be very tough in matters of corruption, black money and unfair trade practices. The poor of India must see him as one person working for the amelioration of their miseries and exploitation. His moral authority should wield considerable influence on arrogant and self-serving bureaucracy including the India police. Compassion and empathy have to be his/her creed. India has practiced secularism for ages and this is what needs to be emphasized and strengthened instead of using secularism as political tool t for petty electoral gains. Removal of hunger and misery on one hand and strengthening of social cohesion and religious amity need to be the priority in policy formulations. No nation can neglect its education and national defense. The rural India and the farmers are waiting for someone who devotes time to them and their needs. The leader of the nation must have the courage to relegate party loyalties to background in situations that demand him to rise above every other consideration in the national interest.

Right from Nehru’s towering persona to the picked-up-PM Manmohan Singh, India and its people have seen prime ministers with varying strengths and weaknesses.   People are now far more alert and politically conscious. They would like a PM who knows India, cares for its people, internalizes democratic values, is not after power and has the traits to win over the love and affection of people.   People would like someone with vision, able to reestablish India’s stature in the international community, project India as a strong, self-sufficient and courageous nation that can defend its borders and confront every overt and covert attack on its territory.

By J S Rajput

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