The more things change, the more they remain the same, according to a famous proverb. How we wish that were true of our politics. Going by experience, the minute the face of the government changes, so do the important policies that affect the people. So all we can hope is that while the ingredients are being thrown in to the broth of government formation and the final seasoning added, there will be a degree of continuity in policies. This would be a welcome break with the past. When the outgoing UPA took over from the NDA, several schemes that could have been beneficial to India’s infrastructure growth fell by the wayside, for example the Sagar Mala project to upgrade ports, shipping and waterways and the Golden Quadrilateral project. Disinvestment that was well on course ran into the Left roadblock.
Schemes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, wherever implemented, hold the difference between life and death for many. The airport upgradation project translates into spin-offs for the multi-crore tourism trade. All these cannot be held hostage to the exigencies of politics.
Though comparisons are odious, here we must learn a lesson from the US. Despite a year-long campaign, American policy was not disrupted. Neither has it been, except in a few controversial areas, changed by the new administration. Our penchant for changing policies and implementing new ones not only incurs avoidable cost but also often amounts to reinventing the wheel. That we have achieved such economic growth despite fractious coalitional politics suggests that democratic maturity is upon us.
Why then should a new government not carry on the positive schemes launched by its predecessor? After all, the UPA grabbed the nuclear ball that had been bowled by the NDA and ran with it. Starting today, we will see much confusion as the permutations and combinations begin swirling about. But, at the end of the day, let the political establishment keep in mind that it cannot be at the cost of continuity in governance.