Call for fresh elections?
The Economic Times, April 20, 1999
At the threshold of the new millennium, we can say with
confidence that the future of our country is assured if we
continue to remember that the people are the ultimate source
of the strength of our democracy. The realities, concepts
and interests of those taking part in the complex political
interactions of our political agenda will invite disaster
and defeat if we shrink back from fresh elections. The
collapse of the Soviet Union and the current stresses and
strains in the Chinese political system, and the collapse of
dictatorial and authoritarian governments all over the world
point to a very important lesson: ‘India cannot afford
insular politics; we have always to ensure that we are part
of the global community of democratic nations.”
There are three reasons why elections should
be held a soon as possible:
First, the AIADMK, which was a pre-poll ally
of the BJP has switched sides. And the alternative
government cannot be formed without the AIADMK. This
defection of the AIADMK is immoral and unethical. In
fact, it is not legitimate without the people’s verdict.
Therefore, the people should be asked as soon as possible
whether they approve of the AIADMK’s action.
Second, for achieving some sort of
stability, the Congress party is threatening to engineer
splits from the allied parties of the BJP. If successful,
this attempt will amount to insulting the people’s mandate
of 1998. National affairs have their own dynamics but it is
important that the creative part of politics should be
directed to finding new, long lasting and viable norms and
rules. The people of India must intervene through fresh
elections to give their verdict on those who are working on
ill-conceived political schemes which may pave the way to
the political degeneration of the country.
Thirdly, even otherwise the newly created
front that defeated the Vajpayee government is full of too
many contradictions to give a stable alternative: AIDMK, TMC,
Laloo’s party, Mulayam’s party. The best evidence of the
unworkability of this new arrangement is clear from a
perusal of the records of the recent debate in Parliament.
The best way out of the impasse is to go back to the people.
Parties need empowerment to maintain and
reach agreements but it is equally true that every time we
have a fractured mandate, political formations which are
devoid of any structural framework and which do not have a
‘life beyond their leaders’ are shown up for their negative
roles which are detrimental to basic national interests.
The political wisdom of the Indian people is being
strengthened by a process which eliminates archaic
arrangements dominated by feudal outlook, caste mechanisms,
and religious obscurantism. This is a ‘learning process’
which can also be regarded a human resource development. In
spite of ‘negative stereotypes’ and ‘enemy images’ there is
every hope that the electoral process encourages the polity
to develop solutions that ‘integrate’ separate
perspectives. It cannot be denied that in spite of initial
difficulties, the Vajpayee government got down to
identifying common goals and working together to achieve
them, and most of the allies broadened their political
perspectives. The ‘instability’ of the Vajpayee government
when it was pulled down was artificially manufactured and
was by no means systemic. I would therefore argue that there
is every likelihood that fresh elections will produce
momentum towards ‘agreement’ and ‘problem-solving’.
Avoiding elections and persisting in politics of manoeuvre
will produce a vicious cycle of action and reaction leading
to severe instability.