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Election results show Indians demand clean, better governance

By Rajendra K. Aneja: "Yes, I used to be irritated by requests for bribes and gratuities by petty officials all the time," says Radheshyam, my neighbourhood grocer. "But, I have taken this in my stride. I know I will have to pay something additional to get work done. So, I just add it to the official fee, and see the entire sum as a cost. So for me the incremental gratuities are almost official now. This way it does not bother me!" he explained. Radheshyam has become a cynic. He is disillusioned.


Across India there are many Radheshyams who are upset by the decline in values. The Congress has performed poorly in the assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi, as expected, due to rotten governance in the last five to six years. Corruption has become an infectious disease in India, in epidemic proportions. Ordinary citizens are unable to get any work done without having to pay bribes for even minor official services like getting an identification card.

Prices of everyday essentials like onions and tomatoes have risen by 25 percent to 50 percent. This has brought untold misery to the poor and lower middle classes. Many families do not buy vegetables and fruits freely due to their exorbitant prices. Inflation has been running at 10 percent to 20 percent on items of daily use. The annual growth rate in the country has slipped from a high of nine percent to below five percent.

The reactions of the government to these issues has ranged from arrogance to utter indifference. The common man in India does not feel that he is part of the national concern or process. He feels he has no recourse or access to any authority to underscore the inconveniences faced by him. Our ministers and politicians have become the new "maharajas" of India.

Next, people are also frustrated and exasperated with the brand of dynastic politics being fostered by the Congress, Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, the unofficial candidate for prime minister. They seem remote and unconnected with the problems and ethos of ordinary Indians. Granted that Jawaharlal Nehru participated actively in the freedom struggle of India. However this does not entitle them to run India as if it was a private fiefdom.

Increasingly Indians are asserting that they do not care about the reputation of dynastic families; they are only concerned about the delivery of results by elected officials.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has won clear majorities in three states, should not become over-smug with its performance. It needs to labour hard before the May 2014 General election, if it wishes to win the election. The BJP should refrain from becoming arrogant like the Congress or taking the people of the country for granted. Recently some of the BJP leaders have been making disparaging comments about the new Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

The AAP is the superstar performer in the Delhi assembly elections. It should not be belittled. In an archetypal David vs Goliath story, the party has vanquished a corrupt, non-performing incumbent Congress government and driven the BJP into a tight corner. The party may lack the organizational skills/resources at this stage to form a government in Delhi state. Also the party may lack the resources to fight elections in all the states.

Nevertheless, the clean and honest politics of the AAP is like a breath of fresh air in a musty and obnoxious scenario. India needs a third front, in the form of a common people's movement, which is spotless and free of murky politics. The AAP will gradually muster the numbers and managerial resources to form governments too.

Integrity and uprightness in Indian politics should be applauded, in the current sludgy scene.

(14.12.2013 - Rajendra Aneja is the CEO of a foods company in the Middle East. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at rajendraaneja@hotmail.com)

--IANS (Posted on 14-12-2013)

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