The long death march
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UPA 2 has ignored the lessons of coalition management it seemed to have picked up in its first avatar
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is known to affect animals like the deer, moose and elk in North America. Some of its characteristic behavioural symptoms, a disease monitoring website informs us, include, "decreased interaction with other animals, listlessness, lowering of the head, blank facial expression and repeated walking in set patterns". Some affected animals have also shown "hyper-excitability and nervousness". As it completes three years in power, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) 2 in general, and the Congress in particular, shows many symptoms of CWD. While there is no treatment available for CWD-affected animals as the disease is both progressive and fatal, there is still hope for the UPA and the Congress.
The Congress, now in government at the Centre continually for eight years, has equalled the time it was out of office between 1996-2004. It must undoubtedly take the biggest share of the blame for the current state of ennui. In 2004, the Congress was sprightly and quick-witted, enabling it to pull off an incredible victory. The aam aadmi campaign, the urgency to build alliances and bridges in different states, the willingness to talk, sacrifice and make concessions, as well as the ability to see the larger picture, were all crucial to the success of UPA 1.
By this stage, UPA 1 had ticked most boxes. Working around the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP), it enunciated a series of policies and programmes that not only made it visible on the ground, but also gave the impression of a working government. In the name of the aam aadmi and inclusive development, the government reached out to different groups, sections and regions. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Right to Information Act, Bharat Nirman Programme, Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, cooked mid-day meal scheme, National Rural Health Mission , Sachar Committee report, second administrative commission and the value-added tax reforms, among others, promised to make a difference to a majority of people.