Monday, April 11, 2016

Does Democracy Really Foster People’s Agenda?

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

My state of Andhra Pradesh has been split into two almost two years ago.  My old state (what is left after cutting it into two) doesn’t have a capital city yet, and really doesn’t have a lot of infrastructure that constitutes a fully functioning state.  However, it does have an elected government and a chief minister, and it does have a long list of unfulfilled election promises made by the current and elected state government and bifurcation promises made by the center.  It only doesn’t have an owner who will own up to these promises.  Nowadays it is a common practice to promise the moon prior to the election, but once in power keep attacking opposition and encouraging elected representatives to jump into the ruling party (it really doesn’t make sense to have a majority government to attract elected opposition party leaders to come into their government).  It is also unusual for the central government to ignore the commitments to a state that got separated amid a host of promises made in the parliament.  The irony of AP and its current situation is that the center and state have a common power base.  Both the CM and PM belong to the same political alliance.  How is it possible that the party in power will not follow through on bifurcation promises and poll commitments?

The Modi lead government in Delhi has been passing out thousands of Crores of Rupees to many states, and many thousands of Crores to development and other infrastructure initiatives.  For some reason Modi and his government has the pink eye towards the new AP.  There is no discussion on the state’s needs and how it can become main stream.

Although alliance partners CM and PM, might really not be on the same bandwidth, and the politics of the state’s leadership might not fit with the center.

If we start to believe that India’s leadership is ignoring its people (a whole state full of people), it is difficult to table this as elections come every five years, and two is has already lapsed in the last election.  India still has fresh memories of 1970’s emergency under Mrs. Gandhi, and how the people voted down the INC.  Family or history was not important when it came to democratic governance.  The people’s agenda has become increasingly important for the electorate, especially with the advent of electronic media.  Indian politics still have a great influence from caste, religion, language, geography, but poll promises and regional development have also become polling booth issues.  People today are more aware of government actions and policies.  The internet, mobile and television coverage puts politicians on the spot consistently.  If they are in the public eye consistently, so why Modi and Naidu unable to coordinate the conditions or AP bifurcation?  Are they both thinking it is a long five years before next election and things can be either forgotten or addressed?  In fact Modi as the PM started off with a profile of a rock star internationally and with a man that works really hard domestically.  With almost two years on the job, Modi personally continues to work really hard and also drives his team really hard.  Also in this time in office his aura of invincibility has diminished within the nation.  He is no longer the super politician he personified when he got elevated as the PM.  Modi still has high level of commitment to his position and works really hard, while his politics are slowly (some cases very quickly) coming into normal standards.  While the nation is still holding him to his election promises, the results have been not so stellar.

The Indian parliamentary system is still hampering Modi’s policy decisions and implementation to a large degree.  Outside of the INC and its allies being obstructionist, Modi also keeps making missteps that contribute to failures in delivering to poll promises.

Modi continues to spend a lot of personal effort in local elections, which have yielded mixed results, and have not replicated his national election success.  Equations are different when it comes to local elections.  There has been little success in curbing the black money, and bringing back the Indian money starched abroad.  In fat this is one of the biggest holes in Modi election promise verses reality.

Coming into the AP situation, there has been no progress on commitments (not just promises) made by the center in splitting the state.  Much of Naidu’s he is simply limited to visiting Delhi to beg for meetings and making power point presentations (which is a habit at least 20 years old).  For people of AP, both Modi and Naidu have not done anything that is even remotely close to their election promises.  While Modi has completely ignored AP, Naidu is busy getting out of political trouble in Telangana and encouraging political defections in AP.  The irony for the people of AP is one that (Modi) is uninterested and the other (Naidu) is incapable of making the center deliver to the people’s agenda.

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