How Serious is the UPA Crisis?
DR MOHAMMAD MANZOOR ALAM takes a look at the UPA government’s situation.
The Congress-led UPA-II government at the Centre is completing three years in office next month. That is the time for review of its performance by its leadership as well as for an appraisal by the people at large and the opposition in particular.
In fact, the appraisal has already begun. The most vociferous in denigrating the government is, of course, the BJP, which does not carry conviction in any case unless you love to see riots and communal discord all around you.
For the BJP it is plainly a case of sour grapes. Naturally, it cribbed and carped on the first and second anniversaries of UPA-II. It has already started doing the same.
The BJP is at the centre of a grand international plan to discredit the UPA as business-unfriendly and inefficient, and build up Narendra Modi as the great achiever, the favourite of India Inc and a cheaper version of the Iron Man. With that kind of tactic it hopes to capture power at the Centre. If that requires the revival of the Ayodhya movement and communal polarisation, no problem. This party has by now accumulated enough experience to pull the trick at short notice.
But how does the UPA fare, irrespective of what the BJP says? Well, it is a mixed bag of achievements and missed opportunities. The assembly polls have shown that the main UPA constituent – the Congress Party – is not always a good choice for running the states. It is not the voters’ choice for running the Delhi Municipal Corporation either, as evident from the latest polls in Delhi. However, it does not mean that it is less suited to run the Centre than it was three years ago.
At this point we must remember that being capable is one thing and looking capable is quite another. The Congress Party does not look capable of a breakthrough. From the earliest days of Independence it has created and sustained a bureaucratic culture which, by its very nature, has got to be status quoist.
That said, the UPA has to remember that the good work it began must be finished within the period allotted to it.
The pro-people initiatives of Mrs Sonia Gandhi resulted in laws like Food Security Bill and empowering legislation like Right to Education Act. The Right to Information legislation has not only-empowered the citizenry versus the state machinery, but also put curbs on corrupt practices in important ways.
As Indians we do not feel happy about the continuing high prices of essentials and as Muslims we feel being treated like the “Other” by state agencies. Muslim youth are still being rounded up arbitrarily, tortured and thrown into jails on false charges.
On April 23, Justice Markandey Katju wrote in the Indian Express: “Today the situation is that whenever any bomb blasts take place, immediately Muslim groups and individuals are blamed for it.” How true? Sadly, all this is going on mostly under Congress-ruled states. The Congress-led UPA government at the Centre cannot absolve itself of its responsibilities. Surely, this is going to give it a negative rating.
At this point, the UPA has to examine why programmes, schemes and instrumentalities of minorities’ empowerment and security have not worked. Who has sabotaged them and how can we overcome the difficulties are questions that must be answered on its third anniversary.
The leading party in the conglomerate must review the progress (or lack of it) of minorities’ uplift programmes and also find answer to questions like why it is not the BJP-ruled Gujarat, but Congress-ruled Maharashtra and Rajasthan where most Muslim youth are rounded up, tortured and jailed on flimsy grounds and trumped up charges.
The Congress Party has also to think on the systemic bias within the administration and act to root it out forever. Congress-ruled states should be asked to review why they are not able to implement minorities’ (especially, Muslim) uplift programmes. They should also be asked to create a benchmark for others to follow in relation to minorities uplift programmes. They should also remember that the next election will be decided not on new promises, but on what was done to fulfill the promises made in the earlier manifesto. g