“A fractured government, hostage to whimsical opportunists, is always an unhappy eventuality. In 2014, it could be catastrophic”

Less than a week after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called himself an anarchist, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said populist anarchy could not be “a substitute for governance.”

In his customary address to the nation on Republic Day eve, Mr. Mukherjee also made the comment that “the government is not a charity shop,” an apparent reference to the generous promises and freebies offered by political parties across the spectrum. The statement could apply as much to the UPA, which has rolled out several subsidy schemes, as to parties such as DMK and AIADMK, and to the AAP, which has given Delhi residents subsidised water and power. Mr. Mukherjee denounced what he described as the “rising trend of hypocrisy in public life,” and said elections did not give anyone “the licence to flirt with illusions.” False promises lead to disillusionment, giving birth to rage, and that rage has one legitimate target: those in power.

“This rage will abate only when governments deliver what they were elected to deliver: social and economic progress, not at snail’s pace, but with the speed of a racehorse,” he said, in a speech that mentioned no political parties by name, but had significant political overtones.

“The aspirational young Indian will not forgive a betrayal of her future. Those in office must eliminate the trust deficit between them and the people. Those in politics should understand that every election comes with a warning sign: perform, or perish,” the President contended.

With just four months to go before the general election, Mr. Mukherjee made a strong pitch for a stable government, warning that 2014 could prove ‘catastrophic’ if people gave a fractured verdict, that could give room to “whimsical opportunists.” The President asserted that 2014 must become a year of healing after the fractured and contentious politics of the last few years.

“This chance will not come if India does not get a stable government. A fractured government, hostage to whimsical opportunists, is always an unhappy eventuality,” he observed.

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