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Increasing quotient of development in our polity

Increasing quotient of development in our polity

Author: Sidharth Mishra
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: April 27, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/172388/Increasing-quotient-of-development-in-our-polity.html

Traveling through Jharkhand and Bihar, largely the former, in the middle of April covering the 15th Lok Sabha polls was an extra-ordinary experience. I came across new indices which are determining people's expectations from the candidates and the political parties.

This is not to suggest that caste has stopped being a factor in States like Jharkhand and Bihar. A Bhumihar, a Yadav and a Muslim name as much matter in Bihar and Jharkhand today as a Punjabi, a Vaish, a Jat and a Poorvanchali name would matter in the national Capital.

But caste alone has certainly not remained the sole determining factor. People are looking forward to something beyond the caste identity of their candidates and the political parties. Development has been factored into the caste system as an important ingredient in our politics today.

Listening to Narendra Modi speak at a public rally in Ranchi about 10 days back, I was pleasantly surprised that the man who has been painted as the devil incarnate by the secular politicians seldom went beyond the agenda of development during his address.

He did touch the issue of minority appeasement and terror but the focus of his speech remained on the high rate of development which has been achieved in Gujarat. And whenever he compared it with the rate of development/growth achieved by the Central government, he drew immediate applause. He insisted that the issue of terror and law and order were related to development. Fight against lawlessness cannot be successful without achieving a suitable rate of development.

Across the border in Bihar, the leaders of grand caste alliance - messrs Lalu Prasad and Ramvilas Paswan would learn to their nemesis this time that caste talk alone doesn't work. All talk of the upper castes not being very happy with Nitish Kumar because he has not really pampered them would prove to be bunkum as the upper caste professionals are very-very happy with the return of the rule of law in the state. People have just started to savour the fruits of development and cannot let it go so early. And if they do, it would be their bad luck.

Development, in my memory, first became a dominant agenda in the polls during the Madhya Pradesh assembly polls in 1998. The Congress government of Digvijay Singh won a second term for itself for having taken some progressive steps in the social and agriculture sector. Later in 2003 and again in 2008, Sheila Dikshit effectively defeated the anti-incumbency factor with the agenda of development. So did Raman Singh in Chattisgarh and Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh. In 2009, Sheila Dikshit's son Sandeep Dikshit would ride into the Lok Sabha for the second time and this time on the Delhi Metro, which enters his constituency tomorrow.

Caste and region have their role in politics. But to succeed as a political leader, the right political combination has to be spurred by the vision of development. Delhi University to Central Secretariat in 13 minutes was unthinkable. Metro made the dream come true. Similarly in Bihar, Bhagalpur to Patna in five hours was unfathomable. But the good roads have made it happen.

People have come to understand the important role quotient of development plays in their lives. The first decade of the millennium has actually seen several of the Indian dreams come true. The dream of having development as the only factor in our polity would also come true someday. I am sure the day is not very far away.

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