RE: Your performance during the Kandahar Episode
Do you have anything better than this Kanchan Gupta article to explain your performance? If not, then here are some questions that arise from that article:
- The article blames the media for creating the impression that the entire country wanted the terrorists to be released. The question is, were you elected to office based on SMS polls organized by the media? Don’t you have BJP workers all over the country? Did you really have no way to be in touch with those who elected you?
- If you cannot fight your country’s media and some 200 families within the country, how do you expect Indians to have the confidence that you will fight India’s enemies? If you cannot take tough decisions and communicate them during a minor crisis like this, what would you have done if you had faced the situation that Britain faced during World War II when the Germans were bombing them?
- The article is pretty critical of the behaviour of the officials at the Raja Sansi airport. Apparently, they failed to obey a direct order from a Central Minister at the time of crisis. What did you do to end the careers of such incompetent officials? Or do your powers of harrassment and vindictiveness extend only to those who expose wrongdoing in your government?
- In December 1999, NSG commandoes could not fly from Delhi to Amritsar because they did not have a plane. In November 2008, NSG commandoes could not fly from Delhi to Mumbai because they still did not have a plane. What did you do between 1999 and 2004 to get the NSG commandoes a plane?
- Finally, if, when faced with the problems, constraints and incentives that the Indian National Congress did, you are going to do the same things that the Indian National Congress did, why should anyone who is exasperated with the performance of the Indian National Congress vote for you?
Last May I had written:
So, a weak Congress with allies will do quite well for some time. In a First Past the Post electoral system, the parties in the first and second place tend to look stronger than they are, because like Vali in the Ramayana, they will gain strength from their opponents.
This analogy is unfortunately inaccurate. Vali gained his strength from the strength of his opponents. In a FPTP system, the second strongest party gains strength from the weakness of the stronger party. Your organization could be in a complete mess, but as long as you are the main alternative to the stronger party, the ruling party’s missteps and the anti-incumbency factor will cause you to gain strength.
My point, though is still valid. I believe that the Congress is in an irreversible decline. If ever it happens that the third front gains enough to form a government on its own, then the extinction will be quite rapid. The BJP is also in a decline, but I am not sure if it is irreversible.
I have pointed out earlier that adopting democracy is like nuclear disarmament – there are serious costs to being the first one to do it. This does not mean that it is impossible. One possible approach is to have dictatorship at the central level, but democracy at the local level. This is best done when the central leadership is neither too strong nor too weak. If it is too strong, the central leadership has no incentive to allow democracy. As it gets weaker, allowing local democracy is a good way to contain discontent and preventing rebellion. But the central leadership should not be too weak. It should be strong enough to make a credible commitment that it can enforce the rules. BJP might be in that situation:
Bihar BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi held on to his job as Deputy Chief Minister after an unprecedented secret ballot, allowed by the party leadership, showed he enjoyed support of majority party MLAs and MLCs in the state. (Indian Express)
The other example I can think of is.. China, but I am not very sure of it.
Of course, allowing local democracy is the first step; the ultimate goal is to have democracy at the central level too. But I am not sure if there is a next step that is not dangerous.
L K Advani’s memoir reminds me of the Yes Minister and the Yes Prime Minister books. In particular, it reminds me of the preface to the latter, which starts something like:
Hacker’s unexpected ascension to the Premiership, which happens towards the end of the first chapter of his volume, created almost as many problems for historians as it did for the country. Hacker was determined to portray his term in office as a series of triumphs, a task that would have defeated a far more skilled diarist…
There is much more in those fine books that would be appropriate to quote. Unfortunately, I do not have the volumes with me here and my memory fails me as much as it did Advani.