Will India vote for change ?

Politics on eve of elections become murkier and the year 2009 is no exception to that rule. We have seen a grand spectacle of one who was responsible for demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and one who was nicknamed Maulana Mulayam Singh for his commitment to defend minorities have joined hands to fight elections. The BJP which in the past has been claiming credit for demolition of the mosque is now distancing itself from Kalyan Singh who had ruled UP on their behalf and was named as Chief Minister candidate in the last elections.

The BJP not to be outdone has now decided to join hands with Ajit Singh who not very long time ago was in the camp with Leftists and had hailed Mayawati a Dalit leader as future Prime Minister of India. Singh will now be wearing a Saffron cap and hailing Advani as the future Prime Minister. In such a quick changing scenario it is difficult to predict who would be in the secular camp and who would be carrying the burden of Hindutva. Things are not likely to stop at what has happened so far but more unlike alliances are likely to be formed and broken before the country goes to polls.

In the meantime only people who would have enough material to comment and try to explain why such unholy combinations are coming about dictated by politics of caste, religion and regions are journalists. There will be no exceptions in this race as power remains a clear goal and it has to be grabbed at all costs with ideology and commitment getting a very low priority. In such a situation one only hopes that Indian voters as in the past will be able to make sense out of it and put in place the best possible combination to rule the country.

Few things are, however, clear that the country will have some serious problems to tackle in the years to come. Slowdown in the economy with major parts of the world suffering from recession keeping the growth momentum itself will be a difficult task. In addition we will have to take care of internal security which is threatened by Muslim extremists operating from their safe sanctuaries in Pakistan and wild west not under the control of any power in areas which form the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as home grown threat from Naxilite groups affecting tribals belts in States like Bihar, Orissa, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand and others.

In such a situation good governance will become a paramount requirement and it will be difficult to get it from a loose coalition which is likely to take power after the election if current indications and trends are to be believed. It looks as if no combination including the UPA in power at present or NDA who wants to replace them will be in a position to get adequate majority or a clear mandate and will have to seek support from regional players who would have their own priorities and agenda which may at times be in conflict with national priorities.

Only hope is that voters may prove all pollsters, commentators and political leadership wrong by giving a clear mandate for change. Can we have a duplicate of a movement across the country with youth calling the shots for a change as it has happened in United States and start a new chapter. It happened in USA because a strong movement has placed a man in White House whose parents not very long ago were fighting for a seat in schools or end of segregation in all walks of life. Can we have a cry resounding in all parts of country seeking a change which will cut across all considerations of caste, religion, and regionalism. Such a miracle had taken place in post emergency era and subsequently when the country had united under the youthful leadership of Rajiv Gandhi.

At present country looks too fragmented and divided, but some hopes were in evidence when many in country spoke about the need of a change in the wake of nine /eleven attack in Mumbai. One would like to ask if that spirit has not totally evaporated. Some doubts have arisen on this score when forces like Shiv Sena were seen on rampage again. But the ability of Indian electorate throwing up surprises can not be totally discounted.
As of now what we are witnessing is politics being played as in the past with no regard for ideology or principles. The forces coming up are not likely to bring about any change. But hope lingers as India is full of surprises , it started growing and achieved number two position among the nations emerging fast as new world powers with talent coming up in most unexpected sectors. Can politics remain untouched by these changes, if in industry new sectors can replace old and traditional areas? Will it be too much to ask for same in the matter of governance?
I hope that some signs will soon become visible and hope will grow that India is going to change with its youth taking over from the old generation. After all they have the numbers and the vision to carry the country forward.
Brij Bhardwaj, NPA