Bharat versus Hindustan
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Yet, the speech was still too backward looking. Like a Bollywood cliché, he said Mere paas Ma hai aur Dadi bhi hai. But most voters don't remember Indira Gandhi. The crowds which gathered in the streets of Delhi after the horrible gang rape do not credit Congress or its previous leaders with having reformed the society, nor for a gender-friendly regime. You cannot claim Congress being at the heart of the nation for 65 years and not accept responsibility for the myriad faults blatantly choking off the future of many citizens. Rahul Gandhi's critique of Congress Party was also self serving as if he or his family have had nothing to do with the overcentralisation, factionalism and cynicism which are rampant in the Congress. If he has a vision for the future, we have yet to see it along with the concrete policies which he would launch to cure his party and also the nation.
But in politics as in war, luck counts for a lot. It would seem the RSS works to help Congress by its behaviour. The way Mohan Bhagwat reacted to the gang rape contrasting a pure Bharat and a sullied India showed that the RSS (and BJP by implication) is anti-urban, anti-modern and anti-women. The most striking thing for me was Rahul Gandhi's use of the word Hindustan rather than Bharat. Obviously, brand Bharat has been contaminated by the RSS. We can expect a battle of Bharat versus Hindustan/India.
The RSS added to its bouquet of gifts by the last minute changes in the BJP presidency. The hurried way in which Gadkari was shunted aside showed the nervousness of the BJP about its anti-corruption credentials. As it is, neither party has much to boast in the matter of corruption. Indians know that once someone gets inside the political tent as MLA or MP or party president, they become immensely rich. Politics is the highest profitability business in India. There will be mutual mudslinging about corruption but no voter will be convinced that one side is better than the other. Elections are fought with black money and until that is reformed, corruption will be central to democratic politics.
The other remark that Rahul Gandhi made which struck me was his praise for Manmohan Singh. Ever since UPA-II came to power, the PM has been maligned and shunted aside by the Congresswalas keen to secure their position in the Rahul Gandhi government. His reforms did not get praise but the populist schemes dreamt up by the NAC did. Now Congress has panicked and realised that without reforms, growth will not revive. Without growth, there will be no money for their pet schemes of throwing money at the poor. After a long period, the Congress seems to have worked out the symbiosis between growth and redistribution. That is also why Rajiv Gandhi got a positive mention in Rahul's speech. Rajiv was a moderniser like the PM is. He concentrated on making India prosperous rather than go on about garibi which Indira cynically did. He was not
embarrassed to be seen taking holidays in the Andamans enjoying himself. Rahul keeps his life under a shroud. The media obliges him by not revealing his holidays but why should he be so secretive?
The economy still needs to perk up. Deficit has to come down so the RBI can cut rates and inflation has to be moderated. There is no way UPA can go in for an early election. The Budget this year will need to be an austerity budget, postponing the goodies till the 2014 Budget. Ab to Dilli door hai.