The Congress and BJP have to effect several changes in preparation for 2014. Without taking any names, this week I will reflect on the decision-making process within the two parties and the multiple lobbies and power equations that work within the system. Political confidence is respected at all times, and while the club at the top is very small, the fact is that I have tried for over a month to understand the current situation. Politics does not exist in isolation, and in coalition politics there are corporate lobbies, and there is media pressure; all this combines to determine decision-making at the Centre and in the states.
Sonia Gandhi is very much the boss as far as the Congress is concerned, and this is reflected in the relative smooth ‘mid-term’ surgery within the Cabinet. The coalition is still a ‘mixed’ bag, and perhaps only 50 per cent of the changes needed were made in the reshuffle. Several states will have to be balanced with changes in the party. Rahul Gandhi is expected to take a larger role in the Congress. All these measures are considered necessary to prepare the party for 2014. No miracles should be expected but changes made give direct charge to many, and their performance will be critical to create a positive atmosphere.
The BJP, I have said over the past year, has weakness at the top. Does anyone know where the BJP high command is? The serious issues connected with party president Nitin Gadkari brings all these contradictions before the public. The top leaders look for space to hide as the RSS takes the initiative; I think the Congress could not have got a better Diwali gift. The NDA allies will have much to think about, as will the regional heads who face elections between now and 2014. The BJP, I repeat, has no high command, but a ‘remote’ control does exist. Also, regional leaders who face the anti-incumbency handicap can cause intense complications, if interfered with.
The real problem with the BJP is that in the absence of a leader since Atalji, they have outsourced their authority to the likes of Baba Ramdev, the anti-Congress movements of Anna Hazare, and now the IAC of Arvind Kejriwal and anyone else who is willing to fight the Congress or conduct a vendetta against the Gandhi family. This is not a substitute for political initiative. Silence is not an option and the BJP has to move ahead from the Gadkari episode. Atal Bihari Vajpayee became prime minister because he embraced a larger constituency and commanded greater acceptability. I think many in the RSS and the hard elements in the BJP have ignored the lesson of 2004. We have an ‘open field’ for 2014, with both the Congress and BJP at 140 seats and the regional parties at 260-270 seats.
I am surprised to see the CAG’s comments. He is clearly exceeding his brief and, like the former army chief, may have plans for the future. Can the system last if everyone exceeds his level of authority? Immunity from accountability is not a recipe to commit excesses on the system. We are destroying stability as we do not have common accountability standards for everyone in governance. Those expected to take decisions are being persecuted for any form of initiative or discretion. Is anyone taking decisions today?
We do not have a perfect government and we see several individuals trying to acquire Mahatma status. We have seen many a ‘Mahatma’ come and go—look at events of the past year and see how the aam aadmi has acted.
Kejriwal has instituted an ‘internal’ committee to probe charges against three IAC members, including Prashant Bhushan. The BJP has an ‘internal’ auditor who’s given a clean chit to Gadkari. This indicates a pattern for future.
I wonder if Infosys and Tata will also have an inquiry to find out if the crore-plus funds given to Kejriwal for RTI activities through their charitable trusts were diverted for political purposes or demonstrations in Delhi. Will we have another ‘internal’ audit to issue clean chits?
Nehru is a former Union minister