The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has reached fag-end of its second term. It may be surprising for some people, how this government completed four years despite reeling under economic turmoil in the wake of corruption, slackness and lack of coordination coupled with policy paralysis? However things are not looking hunky dory, the UPA rule has spanned four years so it deserves kudos on this ground. Though the ruling dispensation at the Centre blew its trumpet for completing four years of its second term, it has nothing to say regarding its contribution to the nation. The UPA managers cited many achievements in its report card released on the occasion of fourth anniversary of ruling alliance, but it becomes palpable after scanning the report that the government has not done any major work that could give a new dimension to the nation on development front. The main reason behind this gloomy scene is that the government has been in the fire line of opposition parties, common people and media owing to the eruption of string of corruptions and malpractices. Whether it is irregularities in 2G spectrum allocations or Coalgate — all these cases of corruption had repercussion on decision making capacity of the government.
Pranab Mukherjee had been playing a role of troubleshooter for the Central government till his elevation to the post of President of India in July, 2012. The Congress’ decision to pick Mukherjee for the top post not only affected functioning of the government badly and managing the crisis but a message has also been flashed among people that all is not well in the ruling establishment at the Centre. Few days ago, speculation was rife that a fissure has developed between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi over the continuance of two ministers in the Union Cabinet in the wake of string of scams. Despite the talks of rift between the two top leaders being refuted, a perception seems to have surfaced that Prime Minister is falling short on leadership front. Generally, the PM constitutes a Group of Ministers (GoM) to deal with the problems, but he appears to be passing the buck instead of sorting out the issue. Given this grievous situation, blowing conch of its success by releasing the report card to mark the fourth anniversary of UPA-II seems to be odd, inviting stricture s from all corners. The main Opposition, BJP, went on saying that the Manmohan Singh government should apologize instead of boasting of its achievements. The BJP may have a concrete reason to pull up UPA, but question arises that despite knowing the dismal performance of the Centre, why didn’t the Opposition party dislodge the government? In fact, the Opposition is equally responsible for the current situation of the country. The way the parliamentary sessions have washed out due to conflict between the Treasury Benches and the Opposition, it reflects that the country is under the grip of gloomy situation. If the Parliament does not function smoothly, the development work will get hampered.
No ruling establishment accepts failure on its part, so does the Manmohan Singh government. While releasing report card, Prime Minister accepted that some loopholes remain to be plugged, but at the same time he reiterated that it’s impossible for the government to put everything in order. Certainly, his statement might have dampened the mood of people. Going by the government’s stance on tackling scams and scandals, the assurances of Prime Minister and Gandhi family look meritless. It is highly disappointing that in spite of corruption eating into vitals of the government machinery, policy makers continue to make tall claims.
UPA-I had carried out many development works in the social sector, whereas UPA-II failed to keep the same enthusiasm. Eyeing general elections, the government is somersaulting to bring game-changer plans to bend voters to its fold. The ruling dispensation at the Centre seems to be reluctant to accept the fact that living standards of low-income households cannot be made better only through providing subsidies to them. Be it MNREGS or other subsidy-based schemes — needy gets only short-term benefits but it makes devastating effect on government exchequer. The economy slowdown in European Countries has been triggered by such subsidy-based schemes. Strangely, India too is jumping the same bandwagon. The Centre’s game changer Food Security Bill in its present form providing subsidies to the two-third populations of the country may prove detrimental to the economic condition of the nation. Unfortunately, no government at the Centre paid attention to the populist schemes affecting the economic condition of the country. It’s one of the main reasons behind slow pace of industrialization in the country.
Today, government policies badly affect the industry and trade sector. Indulging in vote bank politics, the government is waiving farmers’ loans but at the same time it’s not ready to analyze losses incurred by the industry sector which needs aid to change its face. Despite a gloomy atmosphere, states like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Bihar have shown tremendous growth. Centre can pat on its back for the achievements bagged by these states as centrally-sponsored schemes play important roles in their development.
Now, the next one year would be a challenging for the country. It will be a last opportunity for the UPA government, which is besieged with corruption and malpractices, to make something positive. The government should realize that there is no magic wand to eliminate the rot and make win-win situation for itself overnight. But if the ruling government has will power, it will make sea change especially in checking corruption.
(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on May 26, 2013 translated by the English editorial. The author is the Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)