Opinion

In the name of the people

Ranabir Ray Choudhury | Updated on March 12, 2018

Citizens are yearning for good governance. — PTI



Suddenly, it seems as if the campaign for the next Lok Sabha elections has begun.

The trigger for this speculation is the apparent determination of the BJP not to permit a debate on Coalgate, despite the Prime Minister’s statement in Parliament on Monday, while instead pressing for his resignation. In Kolkata, there appears to be a sudden spurt in high-voltage political speeches, distinctly creating the impression that elections are round the corner. To some observers, this is an important development because, since Mamata Banerjee swept into power in May last year, the Left Front has been conspicuously lying low.

Where are we headed?

It remains to be seen where the current politically charged situation will lead: whether the stalling of Parliament will lead the Congress to call a snap Lok Sabha poll, or , as has happened before, there will be a rethink in the BJP-led NDA camp and work will be allowed to resume in the House under certain conditions, arrived at after consultations with the ruling dispensation.

One would imagine that the latter possibility is more likely because, as the record of the UPA-2 Government has shown, it is tottering from one corruption-based “crisis” to another, which cannot do the public image of the Manmohan Singh Government any good in the long run. The BJP must be aware of this, and it is just possible that it has strategically decided to take matters to a head with each turn of the developing “crisis”, climbing down at the last moment after having milked the immediate event at hand dry in terms of political capital.

Politically, this would seem to be the most sensible course to follow, especially at a time when the BJP-led NDA’s record is not too good either. But, while the politicians continue outsmarting each other, the most important question relates to the state of governance. To be specific, what will be the fate of the reforms already in the pipeline, which the Government is finding difficult to push forward and implement because of problems with its own supporting parties?

Lame-duck govt

It had been suggested before “Coalgate” broke out that the Government was possibly waiting for the House to go into recess before going ahead selectively with some of the reforms. But after the CAG’s bombshell, this seems almost improbable, the one and only inference being that no substantive reforms will be acted on by the Government in the near future.

Does this then mean that, in the event of the present House running its full life, Prime Minister Singh will be heading a lame-duck Government? Widening the perspective a bit, does this also mean that there will, after all, be a new dawn when the present political troubles die down and a new Government is in the seat of power, whoever runs it?

paralysis

The worrisome point is that, with corruption being the subject in focus, there is simply no possibility of any Government being allowed to operate without some scandal or the other raising its ugly head and scuppering its work.

The inevitable question is, what does this mean for governance? Such is the baggage — no matter of what political colour — that revelations of corrupt behaviour will continue and, in the event, no stone will be left unturned in an effort to make political capital out of it, leading to paralysis in governance. And all this in the name of the citizen!

Published on August 28, 2012

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