Stories with morals

India has won the World Cup after 28 years. In this World Cup, which had superstars from across the globe and it was tough to pick a favourite team, the Indian cricket team’s success and glory surpasses the game of cricket. After a tottering start, India gained momentum and peaked at the right time. There is a larger message in the team’s success and it’s time for all of us to put on our thinking caps and reflect on the present as well as the future.
Millions of spectators watched the game. Monetarily, this probably was the most successful World Cup ever. Our Men in Blue, coach Gary Kristen and the support staff have been showered with heaps of praise and a number of awards and rewards. The rewards galore are justified as they boost the team’s confidence level and reaffirm India’s tremendous potential.
Sachin Tendulkar doesn’t show even the slightest sign of fatigue and while the World Cup victory is dedicated to him, I am certain that there are many more such victories to come. There is a great deal of talk about awarding him the Bharat Ratna.
Once again, the political fraternity is two to three steps behind the people of the country who have already given this honour to the champion.
India has gone through a lot of change in the last two decades, but the world woke up just a decade ago. Some, who look only at the negatives and seem stuck at where India was 20, 10, or even five years ago, are living in denial.
A decade ago, visiting cricket teams would complain of the playing conditions, food, accommodation, even the weather and the crowds. Often the presence of top players seemed doubtful. See how things have changed today. In a matter of 10 years, India has acquired the best facilities the game has to offer, not just in big cities but in small towns as well.
Look at the Indian Premier League (IPL) contest which began in a festive atmosphere on Friday. Every great player, past and present, is in India in one capacity or the other. The IPL is next only to the American National Football League (NFL) in terms of net worth, and it may well take over the NFL in a few years.

In between the IPL we have the all-important elections in West Bengal. I think the alliance between the Trinamul Congress and the Congress Party will do better than what the opinion polls are suggesting. I will be surprised if the alliance wins less than 225 of the 294 seats in West Bengal. The Congress will be marginalised with the Trinamul’s huge victory and will have to carve out space for itself.
Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee will win but she will face issues that confront every party that gallops to power by overthrowing well-established one-party rule. Ninety per cent of her MLAs (member of Legislative Assembly) will be new and she will face an internal crisis between those who have battled with her over the years and the new entrants. Ms Banerjee will have to expand her base. Political vulnerability is most intense when a party is at its peak and leaders have to learn to manage diverse demands.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) will be humbled but will continue to exist in pockets. The party leaders know that great expectations can bring great disappointments once ground realities surface after the election euphoria. And that’s the chance they will be waiting for to strike.
Ms Banerjee understands politics well and will be well aware of the need to instil confidence within the system of governance. Much needs to be done at all levels to attract investment to West Bengal. I am not surprised that Ms Banerjee is already seeking to expand her party’s base by fielding candidates in Assam and other northeastern states as well. But her real test will be in West Bengal. She will be judged on the governance she delivers.
In Kerala, the Congress and its allies will win and the CPI(M) will face a severe crisis that is likely to claim more than a few leaders. A defeat in West Bengal and Kerala will further diminish the Left parties’ national stature. Its Lok Sabha tally fell from 61 in 2004 to 24 in 2009, and in the 2014 general elections it could well sink to a singledigit.
This is unfortunate but inevitable. The Left parties pursue an outdated ideology that has been abandoned, or at least modified, by most Communist regimes. Its leaders still live in the conflicts of the Cold War.
The electoral trend in Tamil Nadu may well determine the form of alliances of the future in Delhi. Much will depend on the fallout of the 2G scam case and the war within Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief M. Karunanidhi’s family. It is to be seen whether these two issues will demolish the power of caste and cash. Opinion polls are already writing off the ruling DMK government.
The Central Bureau of Investigation has slowed down the legal process in the 2G spectrum as elections progress. However, the 2G scam is firmly etched in the public mind and will gain momentum with the Supreme Court’s help. The Public Accounts Committee and the joint parliamentary committee investigations will also keep the 2G scam in the news. Along with this, cases of financial irregularities in the 2010 Commonwealth Games will continue to be revealed.
The United Progressive Alliance-2 is already on the defensive as scam after scam surfaces, most of which are related to land use issues and the discretionary powers of the Centre and the states.
Now that the Congress has had to bow to the moral force of one man, Anna Hazare, and it has seen the pent up anger and frustration in people across the country, some real action will have to be taken. Many may still argue that corruption is not an issue as most of the parties are corrupt. But no action against the corrupt will become a major poll issue. And though all parties will be affected, the ruling party at the Centre will have to bear the brunt.

Arun Nehru is a former Union minister

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