Friday, December 19, 2014
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Election battle-lines drawn: Cards still not put on table
By Arun Nehru
We have a lot of thunder and lightning on the political front and interesting developments are taking place as both the Congress and the BJP inch towards the future but this is as far as I would go for the moment. I have said earlier that Rahul Gandhi would lead the 2014 election campaign and as vice-president he has quietly but effectively moved into his new position and in the past two months has done everything which a vice president should be doing but the PM heads the UPA government and Sonia Gandhi is the party head of the UPA coalition and the Congress party. Election work has been going on as is the work on alliances and PCC presidents have been appointed in Punjab, HP and Bihar. Karnataka is the task on hand and I think the Congress is heading for a possible win in the Assembly.

The BJP still struggles at the top and takes tentative steps forward as Narendra Modi joins the Parliament Board of the party and everyone at the top makes the right noises. The new BJP President is no amateur in the political game and has the confidence of the RSS. All those who opposed Nitin Gadkari have been sidelined and the RSS has sent a strong signal to the BJP. Chief Minister Narender Modi will tread carefully and it would be interesting to see if the Gujarat strong man will test the waters with an intense campaign in Karnataka? He will probably play safe and do a routine visit and will make his presence felt in non controversial States and no great surprise that names of Senior leader LK Advani, Chief Minister MP Shivraj Singh Chauhan surface and at some stage the BJP President and former CM and Union Minister Rajnath Singh will come into the frame.

I take all election surveys seriously as everyone is right or wrong on certain issues but you will see that victory or defeat happens when there is a marginal increase or decrease in votes. Karnataka may well see the Congress holding to their vote share and the BJP will lose a great deal as former CM BSY will cut into their votes and anti incumbency trends are very strong. Can we assume that the BJP would have won again if the party was united? I do not think so as the performance factor would apply and the point I am trying to make is that political arithmetic is very different from what you learn in school. The trend in Karnataka may not necessarily give a definite signal for the future.

The Congress and the BJP are yet to declare their candidates for PM and will not do so till the election is over as the alliances and numbers become clear but the media have decided for the parties in advance and a debate is on and in election year everything will make news for a while and then fade away. The tabloid TV or media needs constant breaking news to maintain their relevance. Rahul Gandhi has indicated his priority to revive the party in the field and Narendra Modi in Kolkata indicates that he is not a politician!

We have to concentrate on the economy as the situation in South Europe shows little improvement and the Middle East is in constant turmoil and can remain so for a decade and while economic hardship and the doom and gloom situation will not go on forever but there are short and medium term implications and it will be a while before we return to a 8% growth cycle. I think if we achieve a 5% growth in GDP in 2013 and it will be a miracle of sorts and this is the time to act with extreme care and a drop in 3% in GDP has serious implications for several Industries and many a company would be vulnerable. We need to use restraint and common sense as in the National interest both public and private investments are National assets. We need inflows into the country and not money flowing out and I am not talking of FDI alone and look at the sorry state of Telecom.

We can play the eternal blame game and blame each other but the ground reality is that the sector is going backwards and our greatest success has become our biggest disaster and like the Aam Aadmi I am no expert in Telecom but I know enough to realise that there was nothing wrong in the policy either with the NDA or the UPA but the period under A Raja was a bad one and court intervention was necessary. There was the usual blame game and a war between the Congress and the BJP fuelled by Corporate wars and a CAG report has created total chaos and now we find everything wrong with the sector.

We have leaders of Industry doing the round of the law courts and there is litigation in India and I believe many foreign investors have filed cases abroad and barring those who are stuck with investments in India I would be surprised if any investments come into this sector. The issue is not what is right or wrong but the overall perception and in insecure situation the business community is reluctant to commit itself fully. The Aam Aadmi is not concerned with the technicalities and millions away from their families are now able to communicate with their families and almost everyone is on the mobile phone and you can write a book or two on the way mobile phones and the technology based on it has changed our life for the better cutting across all income groups.

Chief Minister Bengal and her Finance Minister are mobbed by the SFI activists and this is not right as violence has no place in our system. This is a disgrace and the Deputy Chairman and the Minister concerned both apologized as did Buddhadev Bhattacharya and it would have been good if the CPI [M] at the top echoed the same sentiments. We have all seen the tragedy of the death of 22 year old Sudipto Gupta and the SFI are free to agitate but to encourage violence in any manner will only revive memories of the past.
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News Updated at : Friday, April 12, 2013
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