Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
HVK Archives: The next Prime Minister

The next Prime Minister - The Indian Express

Editorial ()
25 November 1996

Title : The next Prime Minister
Enormity of crisis, modest expectations
Author : Editorial
Publication : The Indian Express
Date : November 25, 1996

To view Congress president Sitaram Kesri's systematic
purge of party functionaries as merely a feature of the
battle against Narasimha Rao would be to miss the wood
for the trees. Of course Kesri is showing the former
Prime Minister his place and encouraging him to opt out
of the Congress parliamentary party leadership graceful-
ly. But this is only a small part of a larger game of
positioning. For all practical purposes, the Congress
appears to have made up its mind to withdraw support from
the H. D. Deve Gowda Government. At the same time, under
the cover of a grand reunification, it has decided to
press its own claim to head the next Government at the
Centre. True, there are many loose ends still to be tied
up - not least of which is the question of who will be
the next occupant of the bungalow on Race Course Road but
there is no doubt that the Congress is proceeding to a
considered plan.

Kesri's determination to break the mould of defeatism
which engulfed the Congress after the general election
reflects the growing impatience with the United Front
Government. There were very few expectations from Gowda
when he assumed charge. Given the fractured verdict and
the inability of the BJP to muster requisite parliamenta-
ry support, all that the country really expected from the
UF was that it would proceed on the path of least damage.
Tragically, Gowda has failed to live up to these modest
expectations. Some of the economic problems he faces is,
no doubt, inherited. But the situation has been compound-
ed by the UF's complete lack of direction. There are far
too many contradictory pulls and pressures which prevent
the Government from operating within a coherent frame-
work. There are tough policy decisions which have to be
taken, but there is no one willing to shoulder the re-
sponsibility. Having acquired power without assuming
responsibility, the Left is always at hand to veto any
meaningful initiative for change. The result is drift
and a progressive waning of confidence in India.

Such a state affairs cannot continue indefinitely unless,
of course, the country is possessed by a death wish. The
enormity of the crisis both economic and moral - warrants
change. But if change merely involves replacing one
Prime Minister with another, it is just not worth the
effort. Will a a Congress-led Government have the polit-
ical courage and requisite manoeuvreability to take tough
decisions? Or will it also have to wait for matters to
really get out of hand before rushing in with a bout of
crisis management? With characteristic erudition, Manmo-
han Singh has identified the areas where the country has
faltered in the past six months. The question he must
now ask his party is whether it is in political readiness
to check the rot. Congressmen have been known to be
disoriented without political power. But this, unfor-

tunately, is not a time for parlour games. While prepar-
ing to jettison the third Janata experiment, Kesri must
ask a simple question: how can the party make a dif-
ference? Equally, he must identify the person who has it
in him (or her) to make the difference. India needs to
be reassured that there is light at the end of the tun-
nel. It has had enough of political cunning; it needs

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements