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Indian politics: Don’t try to match the colours

The truth of the matter is that in today’s India, no political party has any ideology: all they have is a keen determination to hang onto the vestiges of power, writes Suhel Seth.
None | By Suhel Seth
UPDATED ON JUL 03, 2008 10:05 PM IST

I always gave great credit to the Communists for their ability to comprehend the maze of realpolitik, which is why I am surprised that they have been unable to fathom the ways of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Amar Singh’s new-found love for a Congress dining table. The truth of the matter is that in today’s India, no political party has any ideology: all they have is a keen determination to hang onto the vestiges of power.

I see no possible threat to the UPA and not because they have dithered over every issue but because there are no real issues that they can fight the next elections over. The manner in which our economy is in a downward spiral doesn’t seem to bother anyone either. The fact is we as a nation are reeling. Never ever have we faced the kind of slowdown that has emerged and all this talk of inflation vanishing in three months is just that: talk. When we boast of being an economic superpower, we also have to come to terms with the realities of being indexed to global economies: these are different times from the ones we witnessed when the dragon economies collapsed. Today, whether it is our services businesses (which are 55 per cent of our GDP) or the declining trends of agriculture, we cannot but escape the realities of being part of a global order. That global order itself is collapsing around us.

I have always maintained that while our governments know how to be in power, they can rarely govern. The fact that the so-called dream team is today faltering is no aberration: it is what exists. The farmer loan waiver has undermined our banking system and we are quite willing to let that pass only because no political party can even afford to object to it. One more sign of opportunism, at the cost of national interest. The fact that we are comfortable with crippling our aviation sector because of rogue taxes is again reflective of how myopic our understanding of economic regeneration is.

I have been travelling around the country for the past few days and there is no question that the common man is being hit where it hurts most. Food prices are certainly up no matter what the Finance Minister may say about vitalising the public distribution system. Add to that, the basic costs of all goods that need transportation. while the Prime Minister may be in the Rajya Sabha from the North-East, it is this region that will be the worst hit, with the insane increases in aviation fuel not to mention that while there are some states in India that levy a 4 per cent sales tax, there are others that charge a whopping 33 per cent. And guess which are the states that charge this high 33 per cent? The ones ruled by the Congress.

Which is why Amar Singh's stand on this whole political re-alignment is not surprising at all. The SP has been hounded by UP Chief Minister and BSP boss Mayawati. Therefore, they need all the help they can get from the Centre and Amar Singh is sure to extract every pound of flesh before he submits to the Congress. Hungry dinner guests rarely forget the humiliation that was once heaped on them.

But where do all these political shenanigans leave India? I guess no one is even bothered about this right now. The BJP is still savouring its Karnataka victory whereas the Mayawatis of this world are busy erecting more statues of Kanshi Ram. In a country where the CBI takes more than two months to solve a simple double-murder, are you surprised that we are called the land of the ultimate paradox?

I am not.

Suhel Seth is CEO, Equus Advertising

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