In a couple of weeks the Great Indian Tamasha will begin.... It's not a circus I am talking about. It's the dance of democracy - the general elections is what I am talking about.
A few days back we were at the center of the world stage at the G-20 summit in London. The whole world is today looking at us, alongwith China, in the hope that we, perhaps the only growing economies, would pull back the world from the brink of financial Armageddon. As a resurgent nation, we went about telling the world that we would (yes, it's true) contribute to IMF, rather than borrow from it. Who could have imagined this in 1991, when Dr. Manmohan Singh pledged India's gold reserves for valuable foreign exchange?
Tomorrow, the elections will be on us. The question we are faced with is whether the resurgent momentum would be sustained after the elections or not?
Who would be voted in, is the big question today. With limited choices, I am looking at selecting the party to vote for by elimination.
Among the choices we have are the behenji, the comrades, the so called "knicker-walas" and the topiwala Congressmen.
We certainly cannot afford to have behenji at the helm of affairs - the whole law and order system would then be turned in an organised system of collecting loot for her birthday.
The comrades would close all of India's frontiers, except one - the Northern one. The Chinese would in all probability annex India as they did with Tibet, with the comrades playing ball. We cannot let them be a part of the of the government.
The choice boils down to essentially two options - the BJP or the Congress.
While I agree with some of the issues that the BJP has long advocated, e.g., stronger foreign and security policy, modernisation of defence forces, evolving strategic partnerships with both Israel and the United States, abrogation of Article 370 and adoption of a Uniform Civil Code, I feel, today, after Mr. Vajpayee ceded control of the party to Mr. Advani, they have not only lost allies but more importantly, also lost focus.
BJP may not be a dynastic organisation but it doesn't have a credible leadership today. Mr. Advani seems like an old man in a hurry who appears to be too eager to become the Prime Minister at least once, before he is forced to retire from politics. He is projecting himself as a muscular candidate with lots of promises on security and likes of it all, but we musn't forget he could not prevent the release of militants in exchange for the release of militants at Kandahar, one of India's saddest moments in history after the 1962 debacle.
He is trying to project himself as India's Obama, reaching out to Indian netizens. But the important question that I ask is whether he has the means to bring the vision to reality. He certainly does not have a A-team to realise this vision.
Two, BJP's idealistic principles of the early 2000s seem have to given way to rag-tag policies, without a concrete vision that a budding superpower should have. I don't see any vision for the next 50-years emanating out of the BJP.
Today, their view is lopsided - take the nuclear deal for instance - an issue based support to the UPA would have finished off the Left and could have reduced support for the so called 3rd front, paving the way for a two-party system, which would have brought a lot of stability to the political system. BJP's stand on the nuclear deal left a lot to be desired, baffled many BJP insiders (Mr. Brijesh Mishra being one such BJP member, who actually said that the deal was good for India and the BJP would have signed the deal had they been in power) and personally left me disappointed and saddened.
Let us admit it, gone are the days of Mr. Vajpayee. His immense goodwill has been squandered by Mr. Advani and his team, by their constant in-fighting and intra-party bickering. If things stay the way they are, the BJP may fade away into political oblivion, unless of course, Mr. Narendra Modi is able to shift to the Centre.
I must further admit that I am no fan of the Congress either. Like many others, I somehow detest the thought of a pasta-eating foreigner leading India's oldest political party. With all the sycophancy, dynastic leadership style and rampant corruption within the Congress, there is a lot to be desired. No one can forget how the man-slaughter of Sikhs in 1984, had de-facto sanction of the Congress. And to top it all, when the perpetrators of the crime get an acquittal, the party's commitment to justice is questioned.
However, with Dr. Manmohan Singh at helm, the Congress has indeed shown some signs of a commitment to moving forward, consistently and decisively. The nuclear deal and reactions to 26/11 do show that Dr. Singh's A-team, comprising of Mr. Chidambaram and Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, does mean business.
A netizen once had argued with me saying that the Congress is lacking leaders. There is nobody to replace Mr. Chidambaram as Finance Minister, at a time when the world is facing the worst economic crisis in our living memories. He went on to say that our Prime Minister, who is fighting with his health, is playing multiple roles. He went to question how Sonia could lead the party.
My counter argument is that despite not having a full time Finance Minister, we have fared well on the economic front. And Dr. Manmohan Singh's A-team did hold the fort very well while he was away. Let's not forget, as opposed to the BJP, the Congress, today does have quite a few youth leaders who can step in if required.
It is obvious, that today, we as a nation are at cross-roads. The choices we make today will define how the India of tomorrow shapes the future of the world. The Congress, with Dr. Manmohan Singh seems to be our best bet.
At this point, I am reminded of Rahul Gandhi's powerful speech in the Parliament during the debate on the confidence vote on the nuclear issue on July 22, 2008, where he said that a powerful country thinks of how it can impact the world, whereas the not-so-powerful country of how the world would impact it.
Dr. Manmohan Singh's has in the last one year just done that - thinking of how India can impact the world, in imparting financial stability and achieving a secure neighbourhood. He sure does deserve another chance to make a difference to the world.
And we as players in the Great Indian Tamasha, i.e. as voters in the upcoming general elections, can help Dr. Manmohan Singh in that quest.