Retail reforms or wholesale hypocrisy? That is the question that the country is asking today. The drama that has been continuously unfolding in the post-Coalgate days in Indian politics (political episodes in India are very short-lived nowadays) has not only distracted the larger focus on the essential economic reforms the country needs today, but also shown that to what extent the leaders of this nation can go on boasting their hypocrisy.
Obsessed with vote politics and winning political power, these self-proclaimed liberators of 'people's aspiration' have been going on harming the nation but yet when a person like Aseem Trivedi taunts them by means of 'desecrating national symbols', it is the latter who is termed an 'enemy of the nation'. This is where we have reached.
If people like Trivedi are wrong, then what about the political parties?
Whether Trivedi is right or wrong is another debate, but what the political parties are doing today at the cost of the country and its people is not right by any standard. In fact, the political leaders in this country have no basic stand on any issue apart from ensuring that they win the polls by hook or crook.
The Congress suddenly woke up at the dying moments
Take the Congress, for instance. The party leading the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for the last eight years did not do anything for the most part of its tenure as far as economic liberalisation is concerned. Senior journalist Shankkar Aiyar said in one of his recent articles that the income of the government increased three times since 2004 but its borrowings shot up seven times! Did it take eight years for the Prime Minister to understand that money does not 'grow in trees'?
The government's timing to express its 'goodwill reforms' went horribly wrong for not many will be convinced after the series of scams that the current government can do anything good for the country. What was Manmohan Singh doing all these years? If he can show his stricter side this time, he could have done that three years ago as well. The Congress today is saying that it is time to repeat the act that had brought India out of crisis in 1991.
But this same party had once distanced itself from PV Narsimha Rao for his crime of undertaking reforms and went back the populist way. The crisis of 1991 was inevitable for we had pursued a closed economy till then. But why are we facing the same crisis, if that is the case, in 2012? The Congress can not afford to choose reforms or no reforms conveniently and allow the economy to drift only to resort to slogging in the last minutes. The latest moves were just nominal moves and India needs to make its way out of the logjam in quick time for bigger reform measures.
What does BJP's opposition stand for?
The situation is no better with the Opposition. The BJP, a right-wing party, which had spoken of economic nationalism, did not waste much time to take up the cause of liberalisation once it came to power in 1998 after two brief occasions. The controversial Balco disinvestment and plans to put public sector telecom giants like Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) and Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) on the auction route were pin-pointed by Narsimha Rao, who himself was criticised by the BJP during his tenure in the early 1990s.
The BJP started criticising the ideas of reforms once it was hurled back into the Opposition ranks after the 2004 elections. Both the national parties, while gradually crawling towards liberalisation, went on slamming each other over the same saying it was endangering the poor. Who's then fighting for the poor? A 'socialist' (as was envisioned by the Nehrus and Gandhis) Congress or a 'nationalist' BJP?