By Soroor Ahmed
The train accident in Andhra Pradesh, which killed over 25 passengers, on the day the UPA-II completed three years in office (May 22), is a bad advertisement of its achievement. It is on the same day that Manmohan Singh completed eight years in office as the Prime Minister.
Going by the television channels and newspaper reporting there is hardly any achievement for the UPA-I and UPA-II to highlight. They are filled with the stories of corruption, sleaze and loot everywhere. But an objective analysis of the last eight years, with the previous eight years period between 1996 and 2004, would reveal that the present government has done considerably well, especially on the field of economy and security.
Besides, there was no Kargil type intrusion, almost negligible militancy in Kashmir Valley and no Gujarat had happened in the last eight years. No Masood Azhar was released nor did any external affairs minister court the terrorists to Kandhar. Red Fort and Parliament have not been attacked though 26/11 and other incidents did take place.
These are some really big achievements in comparison to the six years of Vajpayee government (1998-99). Yet the greatest problem with the Manmohan Singh government is that, unlike its predecessor, it does not know how to market its own achievements. When India was hardly shinning the then NDA government left no stone unturned to propagate it so. In fact the media blitz backfired, which led to its defeat in the 2004 parliamentary election.
When the economies of Europe and the United States are on the verge of collapse India managed to survive. This in itself is an achievement of a sort, but neither the Congress nor its allies know how to project it.
Needless to say the media is rather harsh on Manmohan Singh himself, when compared to Vajpayee. As the BJP-led NDA was well versed in the art of managing and controlling the media it got more than what was due to it.
It is not to suggest that the UPA leaders are not involved in corruption or that there is no shortcomings in the government. No doubt the evils of capitalism is wreaking havoc in the system and in that way the present government in the Centre is no less responsible. But then many analysts are quick to suggest that corruption is the by-product of the development.
The UPA’s failure is essentially political, and not on the economic front as much. The BJP has a fixed ideology–or some would say hidden agenda–it is not yet clear what is the objective of the Congress-led UPA. It is true there was dilemma during the NDA rule too as to who is calling the shot: Vajpayee, his deputy L K Advani or Sangh Parivar. Similar is the situation here. Whether the power is in the hands of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi or Manmohan Singh. But then the presence of Vajpayee in the previous government was more palpable than Manmohan. The latter is so low profile that it almost amounts to no-profile.
The greatest irony is of kettle calling pot black. It is none else but opposition leaders like that of the BJP, AIADMK, Janata Dal (United) etc who are accusing the Congress of corruption. At least no president of any national party has been convicted–as Bangaru Laxman of BJP–for accepting money on camera.
The BJP had to remove the chief minister of Karnataka, B S Yeddyurappa, after the Lokayukta, Justice Santosh Hegde, indicted him. There is allegation of thousands of crores of mine scam in the state with ministers themselves involved, yet it is the BJP leaders, and their B-team, who are seen criticizing the UPA of being corrupt.
In Bihar the CAG reported about Rs 22,000 crore of AC-DC Bill scam, yet the national media completely downplayed it as if no irregularities have been committed.
Jayalalithaa recently gave advertisments worth crores of rupees to most newspapers of the country on completing the first year in office, yet no moral question was raised. The mouth has been shut.
As the poor Manmohan Singh government could not dare to give so much advertisements the media has every right to take it to task.
But the UPA-II will have to concede one point. In the UPA-I the one ministry which really performed well was the railway. Not only the number of accidents came down considerably, it earned good profit. No problem if the much-maligned Lalu Yadav did not get credit for it. But what has suddenly happened to it in the last three years. Indian Railways is in the news for all the wrong reasons. Not to speak of its economy, the number of accidents have shot up considerably. The rail accident on the completion of the three years is just symbolic. The ministry is being run not from the Rail Bhawan in Delhi, but Writers’ Building in Kolkata–by none else but Mamata Banerjee. What is the Prime Minister of the country doing?