Four years into a second term would perhaps have been the occasion for the UPA 2 to have opened the bubbly. As the government enters its last innings before elections 2014, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says, it has a few things that it can be proud of. It has negotiated really choppy waters with difficult allies, a turbulent economy and a number of domestic difficulties. In the last one year it has lost two main allies and yet seems to be in charge. Schemes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the Right to Information Act and the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan have been successfully implemented over the two terms.
The government has been able to maintain a respectable financial atmosphere at a time when economies around the world were struggling to keep afloat, though a lot more needs to be done to ensure that the economy improves. By the execution of Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru the government has sent a message that there is no compromise on national security. The UPA's performance on the foreign policy front is a mixed bag. New Delhi's handling of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the Maldives could have been better. India, however, has shown great resolve in maintaining political and economic interests with Myanmar, Vietnam and Japan, while not straining its ties with China.
There are many things that the UPA could have done differently to avert the negative criticism it is receiving. A bolder and more aggressive PM - much like Manmohan Singh during the Indo-US nuclear deal - would have helped deflect much of the flak that the government has had to take. The government has been hobbled by allegations of scams over the last few years. If it had handled the situation better, it might have seen Parliament function a lot better than it has over the past few sessions. The government should have pushed a little harder for the food security Bill and the land acquisition Bill. However, the UPA government was hampered in its efforts to get any work done because the opposition parties, headed by the BJP, resorted to frequent disruption of proceedings. The obduracy of the opposition saw the last two sessions of Parliament conclude with little work done. The principal opposition is the government-in-waiting - a fact the BJP seems to have forgotten.
While the BJP has been vitriolic in its attack on the PM and his government, it has failed to suggest measures that it would bring into place had it been in a position to do so. Perhaps, the UPA has not lived up to the expectations of many, but it may just redeem itself to some extent in the remaining time of its tenure.