Postures, political & apolitical

Assembly elections in five states — Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur — are round the corner and our attention will be claimed by these electoral battles. But can we ignore the global economic crisis unfolding over the

last six months in Europe? After a dramatic rescue plan for Greece, it is now Italy’s turn to enter a crisis, and Spain may follow soon.
The October 2011 trade statistics show a massive deficit of close to $20 billion. Will the statistics for November 2011 be any different? Can we afford these negative trends in the future months? Back home the fiscal deficit with the subsidy burden is a little better, but the depreciation of the rupee is taking the current account
deficit to breaking point. The last thing we need is a new crisis at
the Centre.
Coalition jitters continue as the Trinamul Congress fires political missiles over the latest hike in petrol prices. There are several issues involved here, both for the Congress and the Trinamul Congress, and few of these are related to petroleum prices. The Congress survives in government because of the MPs from the Trinamul Congress and the DMK, though many of their leaders are either in jail or busy with legal procedures. The Trinamul’s demands, therefore, have little to do with financial gain and everything to do with power-sharing, which is an essential part of any coalition
government.
The Trinamul Congress and Mamata Banerjee are not exempt from political accountability. Political honeymoons are short-lived these days, and Ms Banerjee, notwithstanding her integrity, charisma and her identification with the aam aadmi, has to deliver results across a wide spectrum. This is not easy and needs something more than populism. There is a limit beyond which the Left cannot be held accountable for the ills besetting West Bengal.
Ms Banerjee has a clear political agenda, and that is her total dedication to her state. Thus many indiscretions that may flatten others will be swiftly forgotten in her case. I have little doubt that she will get the “special” economic package for her state.
The firm stand taken by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue of the hike in petrol prices indicates that we can hope for a return to effective governance; this is expected from the head of the UPA-2, which was elected with an overwhelming mandate.

The Winter Session of Parliament, during which the Lokpal Bill will be the major issue, is about to begin. The UPA-2 has at all levels given positive indications and there is no need to doubt its commitment. As long as parliamentary procedure is followed, the objective should be achieved. Team Anna continues to wound its own credibility on multiple issues not connected with either the Jan Lokpal Bill or the fight against corruption.
The controversy surrounding Mr Hazare’s blog — his now ex-blogger said that a “gang of four” in Mr Hazare’s core team were leading the veteran social activist into a “black hole” for their vested interests — clearly shows that members of the core committee are embroiled in internal conflicts. In a political outfit, this would be termed an “internal power
struggle”.
Team Anna’s posturing, as they adopt a political agenda and attack everyone who does not agree with their views, and claim moral superiority based on the integrity of Mr Hazare, reeks of “vendetta”. Given the number of laws we have for every situation, there would be no problem booking anyone for some illegality or the other. But can the cases involving Arvind Kejriwal or Kiran Bedi come under the category of corruption?
Mr Hazare is apolitical; his
credibility is based on integrity, simplicity, lack of material wealth and his dedication to the welfare of the aam aadmi. The “Anna topi” is worn by many in the country and this is his real “core group”. It would be sad if his movement took a political turn.

Pakistan is under severe pressure from the US and several Western powers because of its close links with terror modules. Media reports indicate that the Indian Army is reluctant to withdraw the AFSPA, something that Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah is pushing for in certain areas. Both sides — the Army and the state government — have valid reasons for their take on the situation, but, in the end,
security considerations will be paramount. Pakistan still runs over 40 terrorist training camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attended the G20 summit and then proceeded for the Saarc meeting in the Maldives. I’m surprised to hear about the “trust deficit” between India and Pakistan. What does this mean? Pakistan speaks of non-state actors. The elected government in that country is the non-state actor, while the ISI and the Pakistan Army hold real power. Little has happened on 26/11 in the three years since the mass murder by
terrorists from Pakistan. The talk of “trust deficit” I suspect, is Pakistan’s PR tool to delay action.

The writer is a former Union minister

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