Opinion » Lead

Updated: June 19, 2012 15:00 IST

Politics after President Pranab

Siddharth Varadarajan
Comment (75)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

The ease with which the Congress finally had its way on the presidency does not take away from the tough times that lie ahead

In getting Mulayam Singh to back Pranab Mukherjee for the post of President, Sonia Gandhi may have managed to undo the unconvincing but significant partnership that Mamata Banerjee stitched together with the Samajwadi Party. Yet the tactical victory the Congress has snatched will do little to alter the political trendline that is — as things stand today — taking the party inexorably towards defeat in 2014.

But first the positive. The Congress has every reason to feel satisfied by the ease with which it fought off what looked like a serious challenge to its authority. Caught by surprise, the party didn’t know how to react to the list of three names — including that of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — that Mamata and Mulayam announced at a joint press meet last Wednesday.

By evening, political pundits and television anchors were busy scripting the obituary of the United Progressive Alliance government and speaking darkly of early elections. In less than a day, however, the tables had turned. The storm clouds that might have gathered around the highly popular candidature of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam quickly dispersed, leaving Ms Banerjee shell-shocked and isolated.

But the Trinamool Congress leader — and others who aspire to rule this country — might well have the last laugh if the UPA reverts to business-as-usual: the underlying dynamics at play in national politics remain fundamentally unchanged and the outlook does not favour the Congress. Not by a long shot.

Evolving scene

What are the principal elements of the evolving national political scene as of now? I will summarise them in nine propositions.

First, Manmohan Singh will remain Prime Minister till the end of the UPA-II’s term in 2014. There was never really any doubt about this though the manner in which Mulayam proposed his name for President suggests there might have been powerful forces — not all of them political — working to bring about a change. But with Dr. Singh’s image and performance such an inseparable part of the UPA, Ms Gandhi knows a change at the top would be tantamount to admitting the eight years of his prime ministership were a failure and would work against the Congress, not help it.

Second, there will be no early elections. Neither the Samajwadi Party, which will likely support the UPA on all major issues, nor the Trinamool — which will continue to blow hot and cold and perhaps even quit the UPA — can or will precipitate the collapse of this government. In any case, the Trinamool by itself can do nothing. As for the SP, the priority is to consolidate the Akhilesh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh, which requires a workmanlike, if not close, relationship with the Centre.

Third, despite the prospect of stability at the Centre, the Congress will continue to decline politically at the level of individual States. In Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and even Maharashtra, where the Congress is in power, poor leadership and management will cost the party seats in 2014. The UPA’s tally could increase in Karnataka but not by enough to offset the sure losses it faces in Andhra, Tamil Nadu and even Kerala compared to 2009. In north India, the Congress’s prospects remain dim in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and U.P., where it won 21 seats. The scenario does not look good for it in Haryana and Delhi, or Punjab either.

Fourth, the salience of corruption as an issue which agitates the urban middle class voter and high prices, which anger the rural and urban masses, particularly women, will likely increase. And this anger will impact directly and negatively on the poll prospects of the Congress and UPA. That is why Ms Banerjee feels the need to distance herself from the Congress.

Fifth, regional parties will continue to consolidate themselves, largely at the expense of the Congress and the UPA. The BJP, which ought to have profited from the Congress’s problems, is unlikely to do so. As we move towards 2014, the only States where “national” parties will unambiguously dominate are Kerala, Karnataka, MP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi, Chhattisgarh and possibly Jharkhand. Regional leaders like Mamata Banerjee, Nitish Kumar, Naveen Patnaik, Jayalalithaa, Jaganmohan Reddy, Mulayam Singh and Mayawati are likely to enjoy even greater clout after the next election.

Sixth, in States where the Congress is in direct contest with the BJP and its allies, it is likely to cede ground wherever it is currently in power and face an uphill battle in trying to defeat sitting BJP governments with the exception of Karnataka. Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat will be tested later this year, while Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh will go to the polls in 2013. None is likely to bring cheer to the Congress.

Seventh, the BJP will continue to face a crisis of national leadership with top brass remaining at daggers drawn. If the party gets re-elected in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and wrests Rajasthan from the Congress, this will open the door for it to select one of its successful Chief Ministers as a possible Prime Ministerial candidate for the 2014 general election.

Eighth, Narendra Modi will not be one of those leaders. Whatever his administrative acumen may be, the taint of the 2002 pogrom will not be erased and the Gujarat Chief Minister will remain unacceptable outside his State both to the electorate at large and to parties like the Janata Dal (United), which will be a key constituent of any National Democratic Alliance government. Among its other State-level leaders, therefore, the BJP could seek to project at the national level Shivraj Chauhan or Vasundhara Raje.

Ninth, Rahul Gandhi will lead the Congress campaign in 2014 and will be projected as its Prime Ministerial candidate.

Based on these dynamics, there are four possible outcomes of the 2014 elections. (1) Re-election of the UPA under Rahul Gandhi; (2) Victory of the NDA with the BJP in a strong but not commanding position within the alliance; (3) Emergence of a Congress-supported centre-left ‘Third Front;’ (4) A BJP-supported centre-right ‘Fourth Front’ led by someone like Nitish Kumar.

Going by the current state of play at the State level, the last option — of the ‘Fourth Front’ — seems to have the edge over 2 or 1. Option 3 becomes viable if the SP and the Trinamool, which today have around 45 seats, are able to more than double their tally, but without the Communists providing the ideological glue is unlikely to take off.

The corporate sector’s preference would be for 1, 2 or 4. Options 1 and 2 promise them “stability” and the possibility of pushing reforms. Option 4 will be unstable but offers the greatest opportunity for primitive accumulation through resource rents.

Possible strategy

In the face of this unfolding scenario, what will the Congress strategy be? One option is for it to accept the inevitable and play not for 2014 but for the possibility of a mid-term election following the collapse of whatever coalition gets established that year. Some analysts saw in Mr. Mukherjee’s nomination as President an insurance policy being taken out by Ms Gandhi for such an eventuality. The reality is that he wanted out. Thus, the departure of Pranab Mukherjee opens the way for a complete and major overhaul of the Cabinet and of government policy. With defeat staring it in the face, the Congress could experiment with pushing out its non-performing assets in the Cabinet and give independent ministerial responsibility to younger Ministers like Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia, D. Purandeshwari and others. Ministers holding more than one Ministry or several major Departments should be asked to divest all but their core responsibilities. There is no point in giving senior Ministers squatting rights over important portfolios which they then go on to neglect when younger Ministers are chafing at the bit for want of work.

The mandate the new Cabinet should pursue is not dogmatic “reform” of the kind the corporate sector and stock market players are demanding but of paying attention to the nuts and bolts of government: getting service delivery right, ensuring the tens of thousands of crores being spent on infrastructure actually end up in roads, ports, water and sanitation works and electricity.

To be sure, Mr. Mukherjee was not an obstacle in the way of such a purposeful programme being adopted. But his promotion could serve as an excuse for the UPA government to reinvent itself. The Congress and its allies might still end up losing the next election despite pulling their socks up. But after three years of neglect and worse, surely they owe the country a farewell present.

The article has been corrected for a factual error.

I remember to have read an episode narrated by Dale Carnegie (how to influence people and win friends) where two rail road companies ruinously competed with each other and finally merged to do business successfully thereafter.If-a very big IF at that-- such a development takes place between the Congress and BJP vide Pramod Patil's comment above (may be laughable at the moment) the regional parties that muddy the political waters will become irrelevant and a healthy democracy will be ushered in. It is my wish-horse for beggars to ride. As regards the nine options, in my view two will in all probability come true: 1) other than Modi somebody will get the Prime Ministerial ticket and 2) mid-term poll after 2014.

from:  Rukmini J.Rao
Posted on: Jun 20, 2012 at 16:37 IST

Ultimately Modi will be pushed through the backdoor and will become India's first DICTATOR. It is for SV to work out as to how this will be done.

from:  S N IYER
Posted on: Jun 20, 2012 at 15:54 IST

In summary then: (1) It is only personal greed that masquerades for democracy in India. (2) The cake is shared between National and Regional parties. (3) The coalition of ruling parties (a hierarchy of dynastic families) are very successful in whatever it takes to RULE INDIA IN PERPETUITY. They have finely honed strategies (of divide and rule based on religion, caste, community, sops - with added possibility of kickbacks); they control the democratic systems and law & order agencies having first fine-tuned them to deliver their needs and to protect them from wrong-doings; and they have more than adequate funds to buy votes - in any type of election, for ever and ever. (4) The fragmented, immoral political scene offers plenty of opportunity to the business community (in fact anyone so interested) to get special advantage through bribery and corruption. The bewildered CITIZENS ASK: is there any way a semblance of decency or democracy be saved in India?

from:  D Mahapatra
Posted on: Jun 20, 2012 at 15:07 IST

Though anything may happen between now and 2014 to upset the author's calculations, the ground reality only buttresses his reasoned arguments and conclusions. I am preserving the article for a verification in 2014. I am sanguine that one of his 9 propositions will come true. An analysis at its best.

from:  G.Jagannathan
Posted on: Jun 20, 2012 at 14:58 IST

Interesting read - 2014 is quite a distance away and lots of possibilities between now and then. If Chauhan and Raje can be taken as potential PM material (surprising how come SV got it to his mind), then guess we have plenty of them under option 4. If at all it turns out to be NDA either in its existing or different avataar, Modi would be the mercurial candidate who can bring the magic. While JD(U) may pull out, other parties like AIADMK, TDP, JD(S) and even may be YSR Congress may pitch in.

from:  Raman
Posted on: Jun 20, 2012 at 14:41 IST

SV is to be credited for a thought provoking analysis. However, why SV & his daily are totally against BJP is a mystery. Except being daughter of Pt Nehru what were the exceptional qualities or traits Indira Gandhi possessed to be the PM? She had all the arrogance & impatience of her father but she drew strength/power because of her family's association with the freedom movement. Compared to her, Narendra Modi has displayed enormous administrative & oratorial skill & sagacity to make Gujarat as the best ruled & highly developed State. For him ends & not the means may be important & so to achieve results he may be arbitrary, self-projective, blunt & even ruthless in approach. His style of approach has caused discomfort to his jealous partymen but it has not affected the development. Many analysts have commended Gujarat's alround development inspite of Modi baiting by congress & critics like an inept Nitish Kumar who cannot think beyond Bihar. SV must be honest to accept this fact.

from:  SR Sankaran
Posted on: Jun 20, 2012 at 12:34 IST

Mr. Varadarajan: Rahul Gandhi will not make a good Prime Minister. Congress needs to project Priyanka as its Prime Ministerial candidate to bring back memories of Indira Gandhi, if at all it wants to do well in the 2014 elections. Otherwise, there's going to be a hotch-potch fifth front which won't last a year.

from:  Jyotirdipta Sen
Posted on: Jun 20, 2012 at 11:28 IST

It is wrong to say that Mr. Modi is not acceptable to electorate. Voters from Ladakh to Kanya Kumary and Gujarat to Arunachal want Mr. Modi as PM. If the writer means Muslim electorate then he should have made it clear.

from:  BM
Posted on: Jun 20, 2012 at 10:27 IST

A viable and accurate analysis done by the writer. After a long time I have seen such article. By promoting Mr. Mukharjee congress is playing a safe game for 2014. But it might not work for UPA. The BJP led NDA will never be in a position to rule. Its only the fourth front led by names like Chandra babu naidu, naveen patnaik and nitish will get en edge.

from:  hemant kumar
Posted on: Jun 20, 2012 at 08:00 IST

The political culture of the country is revealing. We largely appear to be a feudal state in disguise. Many journalist and commentators wanted consensus instead of election for the presidency. This popular Pranabda is put forward by Sonia Gandhi till then the Nation waited in breathlessness, and as the name emerged we got to celebrate. All this runs like a dream from Shakespeare's drama.

from:  S.Sistla
Posted on: Jun 20, 2012 at 06:43 IST

Mr.Vardrajan has plunged into very complicate issue.Logically he may be right on some counts but what is obvious is the mentality of general public of hero worshipping.Look at how many years non-congress parties have ruled in 60 years? In any election in America or India the money is the might.

from:  Ashok
Posted on: Jun 20, 2012 at 06:38 IST

I loved the last line: "But after three years of neglect and worse, surely they owe the country a farewell present." Congress owes a lot to the country after winning in the last elections but do they really care or are they grateful enough, that is more than visible... Awesome analysis .... SIDDHARTH VARADARAJAN. Keep it up !!

from:  Devesh
Posted on: Jun 20, 2012 at 03:06 IST

I agree that making Mukherjee the president-promoting an elderly and experienced politician to a position out of the political arena is a good strategy of reforming the power structure within the Congress Party. Reminds me of the time when Jyoti Basu was in the running.

from:  Srilata Gangulee
Posted on: Jun 20, 2012 at 00:20 IST

Although I agree with most points of the Author (and quite surprised as to how The Hindu was able to publish such a critical piece against Congress). There are some points which are known, like the certainty of Congress defeat. The points which I disagree is where "Rahul Gandhi will lead the Congress campaign in 2014 and will be projected as its Prime Ministerial candidate". Honestly, Rahul neither has the calibre nor the ambition to lead the Congress campaign, ruling by proxy is an acquired taste these days and he would appoint somebody else as PM (if congress wins which is unlikely) and does the back seat driving like her mother. Nor he is going to be projected as Prime Ministerial candidate as they do not like accountability which comes with power, they would like power without responsibility. Regarding Narendra Modi's PM ambitions, it is likely that either Nitish Kumar will sulk and whine and accept Narendar Modi as candidate or Modi gulps the pride and take Finance Minister role.

from:  rambabu
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 23:53 IST

@gita, Your prediction seems to be outright ridiculous. Where would the Congress get allies from,even when the existing allies are willing to distance itself from.

from:  madiraju
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 23:32 IST

Narendra Modi will lead BJP to power with a new NDA (Jaya in, Nitish out). He'll unfurl the tricolour from the Red Fort on 15th August, 2014. Period. It's written. All ifs and buts will rest in peace.

from:  Abhishek
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 23:18 IST

I sincerely hope that Modi never gets the top job. As long as the politicians did 'some' good for the electorate, our tolerance and acceptance of these corrupt, indecent and bullying personas is well documented in election results across the country in the last half century. But I simply cannot digest the fact that my countrymen is ready to overlook atrocities like mass murder, rape and loot that happened with the blessings from this "Great administrator". Even if he can bring 20% growth, should we allow ourselves to let a man like that rule us? Remember, Germany's growth was spectacular under Hitler but Germany is still stinking from the shame of that period. Rewarding a man with a history like Modi's with the top reward in the country would be the straw that unbinds the moral fabric of our society!!

from:  bets
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 22:56 IST

Yes... Even i completely agree with Mr. RamKumar R 's comment...Who are journalists to decide ?

from:  Pankaj Shah
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 22:43 IST

Departure from the ministry of finance to the raisina hills points towards economic situation to be the main force behind the politics after the president pranab.

from:  Sujeet Kumar
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 22:25 IST

India needs leaders who focus on governance and to take decisions that are good for the long term. Mamata Banerjee represents the exact opposite: a populist who pretends to speak for the people while preventing good decision making that would actually make the lives of people better. One big benefit of this present controversy is that it will reduce her clout and show her up as a short sighted bully that she is.

from:  Gopal Vaidya
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 22:23 IST

If Subramaniam swamy comes close to getting sonia gandhi in prison then i think pranab mukherjee will do as Fakkruddin ali ahmed did on 26th june 1975 i.e, impose emergency on india.

from:  Satish
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 21:10 IST

Siddharth analysis is good. But giving the top option as Rahul to rule may be acceptable by people by default, not by his wonderful performance so far!! It is sad that BJP failed to cash on the situation. It is high time that Sushmaji, advaniji take up advisory posts and bring new and vibrant blood to save the country. If not Dynasty rule will continue with protection for scamsters!

from:  S.Bala
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 19:38 IST

As if, the president has all the power, the people and politicians are pondering over whom to sent to a luxury palace and foreign picnics. Except Mr. Kalam, I have known no other president who have made a mark in their post. Being president is equivalent to say politely to retire from politics, and Mr. Mukherjee is the latest one. In all this clamor, who remember our great madame president? let us bid her goodbye for all the good works she has done(signing every paper congress sent). Welcome Mr. Mukherjee for another dormant 5 years of rubber stamp. Hope these crap end in 2014 or earlier.

from:  Rakesh
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 18:50 IST

I reject all this. Why don't you consider Ramdev and Anna factor? What power President has got? 'Amnesty' They are playing President .....President. Why ? Perhaps want to save themselves from the coming danger. In 14 elections wonders will happen. Wait ,,Watch ..and See.

from:  K.S.Chauhan
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 18:39 IST

While the analysis was good, I don't understand why option 1 has not been discussed as much as the other options? If narendra modi's prospects are discussed, why not talk about Rahul ? Why did mr. Siddharth not talk about Rahul's credentials or the lack of it. and how this would affect the congress.

from:  Swarna
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 18:39 IST

With such tough times lying ahead for the elected representatives to
save their seats of power, one wonders if they will have any time for
the common man, who has fixed his hopes on them for a bright future.
This kind of permutation and combination cannot go on for ever, it is
time for one and all to take stock of the situation and vote in a
pattern that can send dignified representatives who will be more
concerned about the people to whom they owe their service and not
their seat.

from:  k. sree ganesh
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 18:16 IST

Posibilities of these options are there or more than these options. But I truelly know that if there will be a referendum for choosing a Prime Minister Modi will be most of the people choice.

from:  Manish Singh
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 17:56 IST

An excellent article supported by facts and figure apart from the lines about Modi "unacceptable outside his State both to the electorate at large and to parties like the Janata Dal (United)". I cannot see any other leader so dearly projected as PM throughout India and 2 people obstructs his path going forward, one is Mr. Advani for his selfish motive of seeing himself as PM and other is Nitish kumar JDU. Finally I firmly believe if Nitish agrees to support Modi, no one will stand his way to top.

from:  Deepesh
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 17:53 IST

Completly agree that pranab should move out of present role and a chance to be given to other leaders who can emerge as a strong eco-social leader and correct the image of detoration image of our country, atleast congress doesnot have much chance to correct its image until 2014 election.

from:  Mani
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 17:46 IST

Dr. Man Mohan Singh, an Economist of repute, and known for his honesty and integrity, is the best bet for Congress to stand any chance of winning the next general election. In the midst of scams etc.Dr singh has been steering the ship of governance well enough, and but for Mamata's road blocks, would have implemented his per reform measures, like FDI in Retail, Civil Aviation, Pension and Insurance Funds etc. Ms Sonia would be well advised to persist with him, by getting him elected to the Lok Sabha either in a bye election or in next general election, preferably from a safe seat from Punjab, with tacit support from Badal. These steps are bound to brighten congress's chances in the next elections.

Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 17:16 IST

The analytical acumen of SV in full blast.It is very lucid,down to earth with precise prediction of probables which as of now cannot be disputed.As regards the fourth proposition, the growing disillusionment among the urban and rural middle class over corruption and price rise will alienate UPA more pronouncedly than in 2009 and consequently the 2014 electoral verdict will get further fragmented resulting in disparate coalitions being cobbled together only to be short-lived paving the way for midterm elections. In this context some Analysts thinking in the way they do cannot be brushed aside as meaningless. As regards Modi, so much has been sustainedly said and written these 10 years about 2002 Gujarath killings that Modi cannot live down it in the near future.His candidacy for PM is a question mark let alone Premiership.Modi for PM will make the task easier for non NDA parties to fight the elections.As in Presidential choice the NDA is divided against itself.

from:  G.Jagannathan
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 17:09 IST

SV's opinion here seems quite divisive. For, due to current economic condition, growth rate, disinterest of investers, decreasing ratings from the world agencies and as economics times suggests ' condition of 1990 again in person',stagflation,lowering the foreign reserve,continious devaluation of rupees against dollars, hikes in food prices and petrol point towards the economic sphere be the main layer on which political generalisations float rather than politics in as much. Two years are left in the next general elections, still a long journey has to be made, the way public agitation is growing against UPA due to continuous charges of corruption, inactivity in taking measures to tackle public concearns, anna ramdev team's demonstrations and regular increasing public concerns and abatement towards BJP will cause these reasons to be as public domain and will determine the face of upcoming indian political journey.

from:  Sujeet Kumar
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 17:05 IST

I disagree that any government that comes to power would not last its full term. None wants a mid-term election. As one can see, even UPAII is being tolerated with 'family' as the first priority. There is a fifth alternative. NDA coming to power with Nitish as the PM!

from:  Sudhir Jatar
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 16:51 IST

Do not agree with u about modi.If he wins the elections in Gujrat,then it is best for BJP to project him as PM Candidate.When u talk about Shivraj Chauhan or Vasundhara Raje they have no appeal in masses outside their respective states.And in the 4 option u mentioned about Nitish Kumar ,I personally think he to faces same problem.

from:  Shiva Kishore
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 16:33 IST

a rather complete analysis but the possibility of third or fourth front not only adds ambigiuty but instability. the lack of a real leader with NDA and UPA as well has made the the political scenario even more moribund, narendra modi-though a master administrator, does not have clout to take BJP to victory. i think we must wait for gujarat elections which are to be held on december.. many equations will change after that.

from:  akshay urmaliya
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 16:24 IST

Great article..I agree with most of the points stated by you.

from:  ashu singh
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 15:48 IST

The scenarios are well laid out but Mr. Varadarajan seems to be kowtowing to Pranab Mukherjee in his concluding paragraphs. The collective sigh of relief by investors and corporations both in India and across the world at the news of his 'promotion' is proof of his ineptitude. About time we called a spade a spade. I would like to see an honest, unbiased report card of his tenure as Finance Minister in UPA II, compared to that of Mr. Chidambaram in UPA I. We the readers expect more in-depth analysis, insight, and a bias free reporting from a newspaper of your stature. You can do better than this.

from:  Quattrovedi
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 15:45 IST

Nice article but I won't reject UPA so easily. With most corrupt politicians in its wings, it is able to veil the money power better than most other parties. Regional parties like DMK, TMC, etc are known to use muscle power. UPA will also subvert the democratic machineries in its favor, like favorable election dates, etc. One of the keys for the success of UPA, is its vote-bank politics. I won't be surprised if it comes out with a seducing reservation/appeasement policy, which will bring most of minority votes to it. Further, UPA has a history of reducing the prices just before the election. In short, since the tribals and the like would be intimidated, the poor bought, the religious/caste minorities seduced, urban middle class appeased, and the rich given freedom to exploit the national resources and the citizens, UPA still has more than a chance. Particularly, with the lack of leadership in other national parties.

from:  Bharat
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 15:05 IST

Political masters may approve new policies/projects or changes during their elected tenure. But, it is the bureaucrats who are permanent, who have to implement. It is here that coordination matters. Ever since the continued detention of a retired senior bureaucrat like Mr.Behura, serious apprehensions have arisen in the minds of senior bureacrats including Secretaries/Addl.Secretaries/Joint Secretaries in various ministries who are the pillars of the government. I do not know how the author missed out this issue in his analysis.

from:  vc sekar
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 14:56 IST

Why have you not thought about the possibility of the BJP divorcing the JD(U), as both have an equal standing in Bihar, thus the JD(U) would have no 'enforcer' rights. Today's rumblings of Mr.Nitish of a secular PM candidate to be named in the recent future demonstrate a foundation based on which the premise of a JD(U)- BJP divorce could take place. That would spoil your 4th Front argument. Further other possible allies like the ADMK would have no qualms with Mr.N.D.Modi as PM. Hence the first options sounds reasonable unless the UPA puts in a credible performance between now and 2014. Whatever, the 'Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram' sentiment of the 1980's lingers on, whoever is in power, public resources will continue to be plundered.

from:  Hari
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 14:42 IST

If Mr. Modi does not have an acceptability outside his state of Gujarat, why do BJP candidates from all over the country ask him for his dates to campaign for them in general elections? The judgment of Mr. Siddharth over the 2002 riots, confirms my scare of prejudice effecting the desired neutrality for a qualified journalist. Lastly, the author's opinion is more of his personal wishlist than an unbaised reading of the political scenario in the country.

from:  Chandu
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 14:42 IST

Kudos to SV for his brilliant analysis of the likely turn of events following the election of Pranab Mukerjee as President. Of the four possible alternatives forecast only two parties viz UPA led by the Congress and NDA led by the BJP will emerge as the main contenders for power, with the support of the regional parties. Between these two parties BJP has an edge over the Congress for the following reasons. The Congress dependence on the dynastic factor has virtually lost its sheen. The present economic situation has touched an alltime low with no sign of revival in the next two years. Corruption which has become endemic has assumed the role of a monster beyond eradication. The common man whose suffering is beyond endurance will definitely vote against UPA in the 2014 elections. NDA is thus better placed in becoming winners in the 2014 elections, Finally SV's prediction that after three years of neglect and worse surely they owe the country a farewell present sounds prophetic.

from:  TSSREenivasan
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 14:36 IST

A fine analysis. But, clearly the ruling parties (a hierarchy of dynastic families) are very successful in whatever it takes to rule India IN PERPETUITY. They have finely honed their strategies (of divide and rule based on religion, caste, community, sops - with added possibility of kickbacks); they control the democratic systems (enacting laws and administering them) having first tuned them to deliver their needs and protect them; and they appear to have more than adequate funds to carry out their aims and win votes, for ever and ever. Do they need more help? Surely the only strategy that matters to the nation is what should be done in the best interests of the nation - not what any particular 'so called democratic party' should do or not do? If so, should the editorial have explored the strategic issues from a nation's point of view? The citizens may be interested in knowing, if there are any viable options to retain a semblance of democracy in India!

from:  D Mahapatra
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 14:34 IST

Completely agree with Mr Ram Kumar's comments.

from:  Gyan
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 14:21 IST

Sidharth Varadarajan's analysis does not show any hope for the people of India.The policies pursued by the present govt. are causing grief to the common man----aam aadmi---and guaranteeing its certain defeat.The tragedy is that this leadership refuses to learn or change its outlook.Except a few journals like the HINDU, most of the media advocates more liberalisation.The UPA leadership refuses to see the developments in Europe where the policy of liberalisation has played havoc with the lives of the workers and middle class there. The people there have voted out several such govt.s. Very unfortunate for the people of India.

from:  v.janardanrao
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 14:21 IST

Envisioning the political prospects of Congress or BJP for that matter, is too premature and the author misses to put ears on ground. No more does the single party's wand is adequate to move the wheels of the centre independantly as extra fuel through the coalition partners had become the order since India witnessed 13 days rule of Vajpayee. It is only the coalition mantra that rules the roost,and makes UPA II shudder. The corridors of power are sacrosanct that Congress has in its basket, a battery of olive branches to extend to its allies, what if, they are mired in corruption and scams, or demand state aid on gun point. The Congress is on a hot tin for the stinking and rampant corruption sprouting out from its own camp. BJP does not strike a qualitative variance unlike the Left parties.The tight rope walk made by BJP for survival in sandal wood state has earned all the ridicule denuding its claim as a party with a difference. It is all the magic of marriage for the rule.

from:  C.Chandrasekaran
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 14:13 IST

What is the big hurry to convert one of India's best finance minister the first citizen? Can't understand.

from:  remesh
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 14:13 IST

The one-point anti-Modi agenda of the elite Angrezi media has been dressed up and inflated to be dished out as a nine-point wonder!

from:  kvjayan
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 14:11 IST

A typical urban , middle class view of things. UPA may not have done major reforms that corporates want, thanks to mamta and her negative orientation, But the small town folk and rural india has benefitted immebesely thru better road connectivity, focussed NREGA, better farm incomes, better standard of living, better connectivity in mobile and TV( may not be thanks to UPA, but has enhanced peoples lives). Finally the 8 years of average 7-8% growth shows, in better housing, andbetter quality of lives. Middle class will always crib about inflation, yet they have income growth fgaster than inflation growth. UPA if it acts wisely, has 2 years to consolidate its rural vote. If Modi is the BJP face, 100% of muslims will vote UPA, just to thwart his election. Third front or fourth front are unstable and will not last even 2 years.

from:  Anil
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 13:39 IST

Awesome analysis. A very informative article. Its time for Congress to open its' eyes and pull the socks. People anyway need a change in the rule. However, 2014 elections are going to be at its best.

from:  Bharadwaj Sista
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 13:20 IST

The very important parameter which prevail in vast parts of country is Desire to have a good change among people. This is clearly reflected in almost all the assembly elections where record polling took place. History suggests that When people want change they come in large to poll votes. Regarding political scenario, there is really chance for regional parties to get more benefits than either Bjp or left out of congress gross failures in almost all parameters. Congress cannot retain its power for sure. What it matters most is can BJP make it or not.

from:  Rama Chandra
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 12:58 IST

well written article,except on modi who is not a tainted man after all the commissions failed to pin-point on far u.p.a is concerned,not all is lost,it can redeem if,it goes for complete overhaul of the cabinet with more fresh faces, and most importantly pass the lok pal bill to win away the huge middle-income voters in their favour.if not, the u.p.a chances seem declining.corruption has been and is very emotive issue among the voters even in semi-urban areas.the personal integrity of the man mohan singh does not catch the imagination.yes both the national parties have taken a back seat,allowing the regional satraps more say.this does not augur well for the stability of future govts at centre.

from:  ashok
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 12:56 IST

Commendable critical appreciation of the political situation to come during 2014.As a voter,my question is,"What choice is left with us." Don't we know all of them?Have they any soft corner for 'AAM AADMI' or 'RAM RAJYA'? we have seen them many times changing their colours over night,not to be trusted at all.Who so ever party may come in power "IS HAMMAM MEIN SAB NANGEY HAIN". As a voter this situation of helplessness will prevail unless some revolutionary change takes place but may not happen at least up to 2014.

from:  Ravindra Raizada
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 12:52 IST

It would be great to put Mr Ram Kumar's assumption to test and the >most likely out come will be the emergence of option 1 With two more years to go, making an assumption that UPA III will never make it is too far fetched.There are many political formations that can emerge. Much likely both Congress and BJP will face election with out a PM candidate and the regional parties will hold the key in deciding the next PM.

from:  Arun MP
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 12:42 IST

Mr. Vardarajan, You spoke something that might happen two years from now and we all know that a week is a long time in politics. Your article is based on the political scenario that is prevailing right now in the country and might not happen the way you presented in the lead story. The probability of one happening in your four possibilities is known to all of us and you haven't talked anything about Ms. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who might be projected as a Prime Ministerial Candidate of UPA leaving Rahul Gandhi to the Congress party.

from:  P.S.Srinivas
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 12:36 IST

Mr S.Varadarajan - Painful for the content but a pleasure to read. Thanks. Now pray tell us 1) Why would the Congress want to re-invent itself? 2) Your phrase 'primitive accumulation through resource rents' is not delightfully vague but menacingly sinister. As the Red Queen asks Alice, explain yourself. 3)The old guard comprises of squatters, no doubt, but the young are not young and they have not shown any signs of competence. If they are straining at the leash, it may well be for the usual reasons. But keep writing, it at least stimulates our thinking.

from:  Ramesh Parthasarathy
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 12:09 IST

Any common man with a pragmatic stance would never support congress in coming elections.. Seeing the way they have performed in their IInd phase ,number of corruption charges against the best of the names has definitely marred their image.It would be unfortunate for country if still after all this they are chosen to 'lead' the country,to God knows where they are leading...

from:  Nitin
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 11:58 IST

De facto tragedy to get nominated Mr Mukharjee, to contest for Presidency candidature, is definitely government malice intention to other party, who will stand before them in 2014 election. There is plethora of corruption under the nose of people, since the inception of UPA government. So to hide prankish act and to incite people's vision they are playing the Presidency game. However, I am slightly leaning away from the topic. I looking the whole drama with apprehension and thinking its exacerbate more distraction in our constitutions. We know the power enjoyed by President in particular country like India. The power is no more than taking sip of tea or dinner with other's rather than using its veto power or getting involved in crucial decision. Who will be the next Mr President and Its functional role and obligation still a ?

from:  Prasannajeet Mohanty
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 11:56 IST

Completely agree with Mr Ram Kumar's comments.

from:  Srikanth Govindan
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 11:33 IST

It will be very difficult situation for the people of india because there is no other option for them except UPA. NDA is fail to project them strongly in the national level politics also not able to project a good candidate for PM. NDA has failed to oppose the corruption of UPA & also the corruption going inside it in karnataka. The top leaders of BJP are not united and the story of there dispute is common in media. party leader is not effective to control all senior leaders. All this situation indicate a political crises in india. We are unable to find the substitute of a party. it will also bad that after 2014 the 3rd & 4th condition will stop the central government to work for the country as TMC doing at present.(regional party know only regional politics, TMC oppose the decision of UPA only because left support that or that is not beneficiary for there regional good image.)

from:  Jai Prakash Rai
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 11:22 IST

Naive, is all I can say about the analysis, for, it lacks an understanding of ground realities. People are struggling to survive. Inspite of global slowdown Modi has provided ways forward for people to restore their life. No matter how appealing the blanket covering the lies of the administration, the strength of sincere work should not be underestimated. And, Godhra was 10 years back, and his innocence has been proven by an independent investigation. If you cannot see it you are just being naive.

from:  Vijay
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 10:49 IST

I do not see the Congress winning more than 100 seats in the next lok sabha elections.

from:  David Joseph
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 10:34 IST

Does it mean that Mamata Banerjee will not mean anything to the future?

from:  RY Deshpande
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 09:49 IST

SV's attempt to create a thriller out of nothing is the general narrative of the media. In fact there is no contest in Indian politics, the choice is between Rahul Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. A similar pattern is also developing at the state level. The non performance of UPA is largely because of monopoly. Future political evolution in India will not raise from the present systems of election or party politic.

from:  S.Sistla
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 09:33 IST

In spite of the courts and SIT finding no evidence against Modi the author seems to think Modi is responsible for Gujrat Riots and he is not acceptable outside his state. whether Modi and BJP can win 200 seats in 2014 elections is a different question but he is a much popular man than what Media thinks and tries to project. Let people decide the acceptability of Narendra Modi for themselves and not the journalists.

from:  RamKumar R
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 09:09 IST

But after three years of neglect and worse, surely they owe the country a farewell present!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Brilliant Analysis.

from:  Safiullah Ansari
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 09:06 IST

Parnab must not become President until and unless he s investigated of all the corrupt charges especially relating to defence where he was in a position to compromise the security of the country

from:  Suren singh sahni
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 07:04 IST

I Wonder, How Ms.Ghandhi Who doesn't even have a Cabinet Position has to Control So much. She has all the Power. What about the Prime Ministers and the Council of Ministers they got to play a Key Role in the Decision Making Process. Mr.Manmohan Singh Should know about his Rights. Mr. Singh could have done a Wonderful Job had he been a finance Minister or Some Critical Policy Adviser in the PMO or some Member in the Planning Commission.

from:  sai
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 06:56 IST

While most of the points raised by you are debatable, point number 8 (Narendra Modi) is untenable. First you adore the role of judge, jury and executioner when you accuse Modi as the sole owner of the 'pogrom'. Manmohan Singh was not porjected as the PM first time around. He was foisted on the people. BJP may play the same card and bring Modi as the Prime Minister through the many back doors available. If BJP does that we should be thankful to BJP for giving us a person of integrity, administrative acumen (your words) with proven credentials to lead us.

from:  Mani Sandilya
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 06:54 IST

Brilliant analysis. The Congress might have won the race for Raisina Hills, but in the process they had to sacrifice their ace politician, Mr. Pranab Mukharjee. In the real sense, it was Mr. Mukharjee who was running the government by heading important GoMs and making vital decisions and acting as the main trouble shooter. There is no one in the Congress to perform this important task. As predicted in the article, the decline of both the Congress as well as the BJP will add to political uncertainty and confusion. There is a fifth option, seemingly illogical but not impossible, is alliance of the Congress and the BJP. Both, Hindutva of BJP and socialism and secularism of the Congress are phony. In reality, there is no difference in economic policies of both the parties. They also share the common vices, corruption, infighting, lust for power and so on. So, why not unite?

from:  Pramod Patil
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 06:44 IST

On paper, Congress has been a party with good growth oriented ideas (economic liberalization), backed by well meaning schemes that bring benefits to the poor in rural areas (MNREGA is just one example). Socially, it is a party that has aggressively safeguarded secularism, thus preserving the soul of India. However its record especially over the last 3 years has been marred by corruption at all levels. The UPA-II's focus instead has been only survival; as a result it has not been able to communicate its positive agenda effectively, nor has it been able to govern effectively to control inflation. A second major issue has been domination of the Gandhi family in politics. The sycophancy associated with the Gandhi family puts us off. The lack of a genuine process within the party to throw up regional and national leaders has been a real handicap. How I wish that congress had its own primaries, which would routinely throw up regional and national leaders.

from:  Anand
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 05:58 IST

Surprisingly Siddharth Varadarajan has no comment on Rahul Gandhi leading the Congress in the 2014 election and possibly becoming the Prime Minister. Is it that Mr. Varadarajan thinks India's Prime Minister needs no particular qualification and experience except everyone knows what if the Prime Minister is a Congressman.

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 05:27 IST

Brilliant Siddharth, but I don't agree with your conclusions. Despite all its failings, the NDA(BJP) is not a viable opposition and therefore the Congress(UPA) will still rule India. What is likely to emerge is a serious effort to form solid alliances in the States. Mulayam could conceivably agree to not contest for Lok Sabha. Such deals are possible with other powerful State parties. Second possibility is for the BJP to split and Centre right members jump ship when Modi/RSS power base becomes unbearable and then join the UPA as independents. It is also likely that Mamta's honeymoon will soon end and the people of Bengal switch to Congress, rather than bring back the Communists! If anything, the anti-BJP or secular alliance has become stronger. Hence, UPA will return with a clear majority!

from:  gita
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 04:51 IST

Is not UPA-II performing TODAY as per Option 4 in your scenario? Also,is it not true that the shrill voice against corporate and stock reforms is engineered by these very same vested domestic corporate interests and their buddies in the Civil Service, Judiciary and the Media ---including the 'Non_Corporate" media? Let us face it --despite Dimon & Gupta --this American Capitalist system is far better than one in which the country's leading corporate entity says that he does not drill oil wells to produce oil!

from:  Srini Balan
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 04:38 IST

very intelligent analysis. Prety Sure that people are not ready to accept UPA again.

from:  Saravana Kumar
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012 at 03:22 IST
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