Saturday, May 15, 2004

Elections 2004

A surprise results bring back Congress to power and stuns a complacent BJP

Congress 220. BJP 189. Politics is a dicey business. No one could have foreseen this outcome. No TV or newspaper exit poll came close. The election results of 2004 in India, surprised all and sundry. As it stunned the joyous BJP and astonished a weary Congress, proving all pollsters horribly wrong, India awoke to a pleasant surprise. The temple-squadders lay badly crushed under the full steam bull dozer of a resurgent Congress with Sonia Gandhi firmly in the drivers seat and a jolly Laloo shouting 'Peep' from the conductors pew. An even pleased comrade Surjeet, the grand old Marxist, worked the red flag from atop the juggernaut. Little birds chripped along the tracks. Kapil sibal, roared in the TV studios occassionaly grinning at the enfeebled BJP also rans.

Congress is at the cusp of history. Ready to mingle with the communists to form the next government. I was a trifle surprised at the rather unexpected results but amused nonetheless. I never believed the India Shining crap. Inspite of the government cronies cheering from the pages of newspapers informing us that the GDP growth rate is phenomenal, unprecedented. That shops are overflowing with consumer goods, government storehouses are overflowing with grain. As a fact just outside this circle of feel-good, the past five years have seen the most violent increase in rural-urban income inequalities since independence. Farmers steeped in debt are committing suicide in hundreds, 40% of the rural population in India has the same foodgrain absorption level as sub-Saharan Arica, and 47% of Indian children under three suffer from malnutrition.

Then there was that dreaded POTA under which you cannot get bail unless you can prove that you are innocent - of a crime that you have not been formally charged with. It would be naive to imagine that Pota is being "misused". It is being used for precisely the reasons it was enacted. This year in the UN, 181 countries voted for increased protection of human rights. Even the US voted in favor. India abstained.

I'm glad that we'll have no more of those stupid yatras, no more saffornization of our texts, no more interference with our top educational institutes, no more state-sponsored pogroms and riots, no more blowing of tax payers money on useless propaganda and no more wait for an eternity to hear a word from the PM.

Wish the darkness is passe'.

Sameer may 14,2004.