Will political storm end in mid-term polls?

India faces a challenging situation in 2011. It cannot thrive in isolation because lack of growth in the Western world will eventually affect all the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries. A GDP growth rate in excess of 7.5 per cent will not be easy to achieve for India. The global doom and

gloom syndrome has to be addressed with care. We have had a fairly good monsoon so far and food security is assured. While the initial signs of a slowdown are visible, we still have some time for corrective action. But only time will tell if UPA-2 and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, after two years and two months in the confusion of coalition governance, will have the political stability to deal with the situation. We talk endlessly about our favourable demographics but do we have the level of governance required to use this to our advantage?
The UPA-2, after a year of 2G and Commonwealth Games scams, is still defending Dr Singh over the scams, both of which refuse to go away, and public opinion, which cuts across different levels, is never easy to read. Things are “uncertain”. Look at the level of the leaks on a daily basis. Governance lapses, big and small, are being leaked to the electronic and print media. While this may be good for the media, it is destroying governance at every level.
We have seen WikiLeaks and, more recently, the NOTW (News of the World) details in the media. Due to available technology, information cannot be suppressed for long and there are few secrets that can be kept from the people. For those in governance this is something they should have anticipated. Should we be surprised that the Justice Santosh Hegde report on illegal mining was leaked to the media before being received by the governor and action was initiated on the media “disclosures”? Why blame the media for doing its job? The Karnataka Lokayukta, Justice Hegde, gave TV interviews even before the report was submitted by him to the government and gave his confirmation on several issues. Within two days we had a political storm — B.S. Yeddyurappa resigned as chief minister of Karnataka and the BJP acted with unusual speed in selecting his successor. And all this was over before the governor received the report and ordered the prosecution of Mr Yeddyurappa within a day. We also had the CAG report on the CWG scam leaked to the media instead of being presented in Parliament. In the latest round of revelations we see chief minister of Delhi Sheila Dikshit and Lieutenant-Governor Tejinder Khanna accused on many issues and it almost sounds like a personal vendetta against Ms Dikshit!
Politicians are not the flavour of the season. Justice Hegde has been a Supreme Court judge, is actively involved in the Anna Hazare movement and is a member of the committee that drafted the Lokpal bill. Should he be giving media interviews based on a “leaked” version of his report? Right or wrong is often difficult to determine, but I wonder if Justice Hegde, who was the Lokayukta in Karnataka and on the verge of retirement, should have acted in this manner as a Supreme Court judge. I think he should have spent some time investigating whether his 1,000-page report was stolen or simply handed out to the media to put pressure on Mr Yeddyurappa to resign. The mining mafia, like any other criminal organisation, needs to be ruthlessly dealt with under the law. Hopefully, this case will go to the Supreme Court and action will not be restricted to Karnataka alone but will cover mining operations in states like Bihar, Orissa, Rajasthan, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Goa, for, in each of these states, political authority has been vitiated by vested interests. Only time will tell if we have seen the end of corruption, extortion and criminality in Bellary and in Andhra Pradesh.
Anarchy is not an option; but, sadly, we see anarchy and chaos around us in West Asia and in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I saw this unfold in the erstwhile USSR when everyone found something wrong with the system in 1986 but did nothing to put an alternative system to work. The system collapsed in 1990 and I think we are in a similar situation today where we attack “discretion” in decision-making on a daily basis and almost everyone is becoming a “whistleblower” for his/her own vested interests. No one has the time to check if the facts are correct. The Lokpal Bill will be discussed in the House and, if the proposals of Mr Hazare are acceptable in any form, we would abandon our rotten system of governance for total anarchy. I do not think this will happen but the public mood is restive and will be reflected in poll results. I have little hesitation in indicating that we are heading for a mid-term poll as this kind of governance cannot continue till 2014. Political astrology is getting more complicated by the week and I wonder whether Punjab and Uttar Pradesh will go to the polls in 2012. Will it also include Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka or will we witness “political accidents” in numbers which will lead to a mid-term poll?

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