2024 hankers for change of guard for Indian Union

Wg Cdr Mahesh Chander Sudan (Retd)
We, the people of India, have been experiencing changes in all spheres of our life including Indian Politics especially post-Independence that enabled people to form their own elected government for larger welfare of the people of Independent India. Change is inevitable and no sphere of life can therefore remain constant. Centuries old English Empire was overthrown not merely by physical struggle put up by our leaders but it simultaneously came through change of mind of the Indian people that accepted and appreciated concept of rule by themselves rather than being ruled by others. The fragrance of Independence was introduced through preach and practice by freedom fighters like the father of the nation, Mohan DassKaram Chand Gandhi, Neta Ji, Subash Chander Bose, Ironman of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Bhagat Singh, Tatia Tope, Bal Gandhadhar Tilak, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, Rani Laxmi Bai, Ashfaqulla Khan and many others. Though, all these leaders accepted MK Gandhi as leader but followed different ideological paths to reach the same destination of Indian Freedom from English Empire. The political journey of Independent India pregnable with changes initially followed the type of governance as guided by the highest law of land, Indian Constitution, to further its ideology of socialist and secular nation and the political land scape was prominently occupied by Indian National Congress who could form First National Government after power transformation on 15 Aug 1947. However, first General Election of Independent India was held between 25 Oct 1951 -21 Feb 1952 and a first elected Government by INC (Indian National Congress) was formed on 17 Apr 1952 and it functioned for full tenure till 04 Apr 1957.
The political landscape of Indian Union was initially shared by three prominent political parties, Indian National Congress, Communist Party of India and Socialist under the leadership of Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru, Ajay Ghosh and Jaya Prakash Narayan respectively. However, two former Cabinet Colleagues of Nehru formed separate political parties to challenge the supremacy of INC. While Syama Prasad Mukherjee started Jana Sangh in Oct 1951 and first Law Minister BR Ambedkar revived Scheduled Caste Federation, which was later known as Republican Party. This indicates that the politics of India started adopting ideological spurt from her childhood to accommodate different voices of the people of India. Notwithstanding all this, Indian National Congress could retain mandate of the people of India for almost seven decades in totality but could not bear the pressure of inevitable and impregnable change in the year 2014 and lost mandate to BJP, the present form of old Jana Sangh founded by Syama Prasad Mukherjee. It may be in order to mention that Indian politics continues to accept ideological transformation to cope up with emerging requirement and it is also noted that in recent times social engineering practiced by the present set of leaders prevailed more effectively in acquiring public mandate to rule. In other words, it is felt that public mandate in electoral politics is being managed through social engineering carried out based on theological division of the voters. This trend noticeably works contrary to the expected style of functioning for equity and justice required to be dispensed in a democratic society that honors inclusivity in governance of public resources.
The present political dispensation headed by BJP is an example of mandate secured through social engineering by mobilizing majority mandate striking theological division of the Indian voters. Democracy expectedly functions for the welfare of the society at large and it inherently has no place for any divisions based on theological majority or minority. The preambles of Indian Constitution provides for a Sovereign Socialist, Secular, Republic and a welfare state committed to secure justice, liberty and equality for the people. The political parties occupying political landscape of India draw their party manifestoes to achieve these constitutional assurances to attract large public mandate to form government as per the law of land. The journey of Indian democracy since her Independence allowed ideological growth of various political outfits without any theological consideration for welfare of the people at large. However, it is noticed in the recent times that political outfits have somewhat succeeded in moulding public mandate in their favour through unusual methods for immediate political dividends. The present dispensation headed by BJP is running through second half of her present term and would be facing general elections in the year 2024.
As it stands, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) headed by BJP gained power at a crucial time from Indian National Congress in the year 2014 and could again hold public mandate to continue for second tenure till 2024. Leaders of the NDA could successfully elicit public opinion in their favor by highlighting rampant corruption, high profile scandals, lack of transparency,and misuse of power and inefficient performance of leaders of the then ruling party. However, there are some public concerns that are not given due attention contrary to electoral promises made by the present dispensation. Ordinary citizen longs for liberal, equal, justified, transparent avenues provided as per the highest law of land to lead an honorable life. The performance chart of the present BJP headed government also lacks on this account especially in controlling corruption, inflation, unemployment and other factors influencing human development index. On poverty alleviation account, it has failed miserly and surpassed most poverty strike countries like Nigeria, Somalia by having 18.92 crore people suffering diet deficiency and more than eight crore people living below poverty line.
The present dispensation headed by BJP acquired mandate by highlighting rampant corruption in the Congress regime but her own record also shows dismal performance. As per available data published by Transparency International for year 2021, Corruption Perception Index, India stands 85th least corrupt nation out of 180 countries. This Corruption Perception Index ranks countries based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. It thus infers that corruption especially in public sectors affecting public utility services managed directly by the Government departments have miserably failed to correct the malaise of corruption since 2020 when the graph started rising abnormally. A corrupt environment leaves minimal chances of survival for the poor and it therefore calls for strict anti-corruption drives carried out systematically and physically on ground to minimize chances of corruption especially in public sectors. Private sectors also need to be bridged accordingly.
Another factor that affects common people in their day to day life is price rise that manifests out of mismanaged market practices that allows hoarders to create shortage in the market that affects supply and demand equation to abnormally raise the prices of consumer goods. A critical glance at the rate of inflation for period from 1960-2021, the average rate stand at 7.5% per year. However, the rate of inflation as published in Sep 2022 works out to 6.5%. Going by the first survey, it means that an item costing Rs. 100 in year 1960 costs in the beginning of year 2022 as Rs. 7804.85. (Refer World data.info). Unchecked inflation especially of consumer goods affects the life of poor people more critically than others, hence it shows that government mechanism to check the rate of inflation has failed even during the present regime.
Another area of concern showing miserable performance of the present government is unemployment both in government and private sectors. As per CMIE report published on 28 Nov 2022, rate of Unemployment is 7.9%. It is seen that the rate of unemployment hovered between 6.41% to 7.9% for the period during Nov 2021 to Nov 2022. The rate of unemployment for the last decades (2011-2021) indicates that it remained on ascending trend throughout showing apathetic attitude of the present government in creating job opportunities in the market whether in public or private sectors. It is an accepted fact that unemployed youths would not only destabilize economic growth of the country but remain unmanageable future concern.
Indian democracy provides avenue to all its registered voters to cast their mandate in favour of political parties based on their past track records and manifestoes presented during elections. Once elected through this solemn mandate, there is no system for recall of non-performing elected representatives that imperatively binds each voter to exercise extreme caution and sagacity in casting his precious mandate for his own future. Indian voters have essentially displayed their acumen and established it in the past.It is quite visible that Indian voters will comprehend and honour the need of the hour and cast mandate at their free will and discretion in the larger welfare of the state in the year 2024.