The pitfalls of stability

Ranabir Ray Choudhury | Updated on January 15, 2014

Kiran Bedi: confused stance.

Kiran Bedi’s idea of stability does not make sense.

Those with an interest in history know what happened when the German Reichstag passed the Enabling Act in 1933 giving Adolf Hitler the power to pass laws without reference to parliament. The declaration of a state of emergency in India effectively bestowed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi the power to rule by decree, bypassing Parliament — a power sanctioned by Article 352 of the Constitution.

On both occasions there was a measure of political stability followed by disastrous consequences for the people.

So when the former policewoman, Kiran Bedi, says she wants Narendra Modi to be the next prime minister because of the qualities he has, what exactly is the message she is trying to deliver?

To quote Kiran Bedi: “I am speaking as an individual citizen of the nation. Are we not looking for stability and order? For me there is only programme (and) that is stability, order and growth because chaos suits groups, it does not lead to stability.” She goes on to say that it is time for a “stable and progressive Government to take over” and “we have BJP as an alternative because Modi has ideas from his experiences”.

Need for caution

Who does not want “political stability”?If nothing else, the prospect of economic growth as well as the effectiveness of policy-implementation are generally brightest in such an environment. But when such “stability” leads to undesirable acts committed brazenly by the authorities one needs to be cautious, which is perhaps why she adds the caveat that support for Modi will not be “blindfolded” and that “we will see that he will be accountable”.

But all this begs the real issue, namely, is such “political stability” at all possible in Indian conditions today? Modi runs an overwhelmingly one-party government in Gujarat and consequently, can do whatever he likes there.

The weight of the Modi brand firmly rests on this political-administrative foundation. It is more than likely that, if he heads the next government at the Centre, it will be a coalition, which means that he cannot replicate the Gujarat experience at the national level.

So, what sort of “stability” is Kiran Bedi talking about?

Coalitions forever

Indeed, if the recent past (since the end-1980s) is any indication, India will never again see one party-rule at the Centre.

The BJP could possibly have stepped into the role of the Congress of yesteryear, but the dramatic emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party has put paid to this prospect.

In fact, the AAP appears to be moving into a position which will be of immense importance from the point of view of government-formation at the Centre in the years ahead.

It will not be far off the mark to suggest that the AAP’s emergence has introduced a systemic hurdle in the way of Kiran Bedi’s vision of a “stable” India fructifying under the leadership of Narendra Modi. Possibly, the next government will be a cacophonous coalition, with the AAP opening its account in the Lok Sabha.

In subsequent elections, provided Arvind Kejriwal maintains his position in the AAP, the clout of the party will increase, but that is as much as one can foresee at the moment.

We wish the anti-corruption movement all success. But it remains to be seen if the Indian political system will allow it to survive, and not strip it of its idealism and messianic vigour.

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Published on January 15, 2014
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