Lust, greed, and lessons in politics

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has been charged with sexually assaulting a chambermaid. He was arrested, denied bail and later put under house arrest after depositing a hefty bail amount.

Mr Strauss-Kahn was a potential candidate for the French presidency. Opinion polls had placed him as French voters’ favourite candidate, ahead of President Nicolas Sarkozy and candidates of the Socialist Party. But now, after this incident, Mr Strauss-Kahn is “politically dead” for the contest in 2012.
Mr Sarkozy’s approval rating fell four percentage points to 30 per cent this month, the lowest since the start of his presidency in 2007. Mr Strauss-Kahn’s scandal will give Mr Sarkozy a breather as the Socialist Party has no one who can match the “larger than life” image of Mr Strauss-Kahn.
Much grist, meanwhile, has been generated for the gossip mills. The French media is already referring to Mr Strauss-Kahn as the “great seducer”, a tempting title for a Hollywood film or a Bollywood thriller.
With Mr Strauss-Kahn resigning from the IMF post, the onus is now on the 24-member IMF board to find his successor. The Asian countries, particularly China and India, will stake claim for the post and this would be in line with the reality of global power shifts and should not be undermined.
The World Bank and the IMF cannot forever be dominated by the United States and Europe. We are all well aware of the situation in Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain. But the IMF cannot be an agency that bails out troubled European economies. It is time for
change.
The World Bank and the IMF have both suffered casualties at the “top” following revelations of “sexual indiscretions” in one form or the other. Their selection process is clearly flawed and needs correction.

In India, after the Assembly elections in four states and one Union Territory, the focus will inevitably shift to Uttar Pradesh where the contest is going to be between the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP), with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the background.
The results of the just-concluded Assembly elections will of course have an influence on the voters of Uttar Pradesh, but they are likely to look beyond their state and vote for their future.
One lesson for both the Congress and the BJP is that no national party can influence a state election unless it has a charismatic local leader. Take the example of Puducherry. Chief minister N. Rangasamy was in the Congress Party but was asked to resign due to internal politics. After resigning, on February 7, 2011, Mr Rangasamy launched a new political party, the All-India NR Congress, and within three months won 15 seats, while “gifting” his alliance partner All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) five of the total 30 Assembly seats.
I fear that the same may happen in Andhra Pradesh where the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) controls Telangana and late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s son Jagan Mohan Reddy has just won Andhra Pradesh byelections by a huge margin. These two parties, along with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), will pose a stiff challenge to the Congress.
The government at the Centre may be determined by the “numbers game”, but state elections are won by charismatic, able and competent local leaders — look at the success of Nitish Kumar, Mamata Banerjee, J. Jayalalithaa, Tarun Gogoi, Sheila Dikshit, Narendra Modi.
In Kerala, despite the fallout of the 2G scam, the Congress managed to scrape through with four seats because they had a credible leader in Oomen Chandy.
At the age of 87, the Communist Party of India(Marxist) leader and former chief minister of Kerala, V.S. Achuthanandan, put up a remarkable fight on two fronts — with his own party, and against the Congress. Even in defeat Mr Achuthanandan looked like a winner.
Lok Sabha elections are three years away and the losers of today have adequate time to take corrective action.

The 2G scam continues to claim its victims, the latest being Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) supremo K. Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi who has been arrested and sent to Tihar jail after a special Central Bureau of Investigation court rejected her bail plea.
While this was expected, I cannot help but feel sorry for Mr Karunanidhi. Sadly, in the past 10 years things have gone totally out of control for the DMK, and mainly the Karunanidhi family is responsible for this.
The DMK was the Congress’ ally in 1989-90. It had won a huge victory against the AIADMK and I cannot recall a single demand made either by the then chief minister, Mr Karunanidhi, or the late Murosali Maran in terms of portfolios or anything else.
But then, two decades ago the conflict between the two wives, the ambitious sons, the daughter and the billionaire nephews did not exist. Sheer greed has wrecked the DMK’s first family, and the political party.

Arun Nehru is a former Union minister

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