Post-Bihar Poll: Where do we go from here? by Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam (November 16, 2015)


Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam

The Bihar elections have delivered a staggering blow to the NDA. They may not be a game-changer, but they certainly point to possibilities of a better performance by a secular front in the future.

The havoc BJP and its Sangh affiliates have created over the last 18 months is there for all of us to see. That what is called “intolerance” is a fact of life is reflected not only in award returns by some of our brightest talents, it is also there in the huge protest rallies against it in London.

However, calling what is being wreaked upon the weak in India mere “intolerance” is like calling Hitler, Mother Teresa. This is not the appropriate word to describe our situation as Arundhati says, “Lynching, shooting, burning is not just intolerance”.

The Institute of Objective Studies expects from our experienced and excellent journalists, academics and writers, who have a wide experience of the world, whose insights are sharply honed, whose sympathies are broad, who are meticulous chroniclers of the present and crystal gazers into future, to analyse it to have some idea of future trends.

We hope the above classes will give us certain leads on where the country is headed. We are apprehensive about future because our celibate, non-smoking, vegetarian, teetotaler Prime Minister is a great bhakt of another similar person who rose in the 1930s to fall in 1945.

Because the senior vegetarian liked to identify and try to annihilate the scapegoats for his failures, our man is also prone to doing that. The earlier virtuous man thought that Jews, aided by communists and liberals were responsible for his failures, our man, too, has a readymade scapegoat in Muslims, Christians, communists and liberals, to blame for his and India’s failures. And his failures over the last 18 months are too numerous to be counted on the figures of two hands. And, this is not a good situation for the weak.

Let us look at some of them. In West Bengal the PM, in his first flush of victory, announced grandly that he would soon launch a railway reform that will make this great national asset modern and highly productive. Soon after that he said that it was too complicated to be tried anytime too soon.

He was to bring home all the black money parked abroad which would be in such huge quantity that he would deposit Rs 15 lakh in every Indian’s bank account as a Diwali gift from the sarkar. When people asked his Man Friday, Amit Shah, about the delay in the money coming into their bank accounts, Shah shrugged the question off, declaring: “that was a mere election jumla.” We, the victims of such jumlabazi, wonder how wise it is to believe any announcement coming from such people.

The banking industry is complaining that the millions of non-functional bank accounts opened for Jan Dhan have put additional burden of expenditure on them, compounding their troubles. These financial institutions had already been in trouble and the Prime Minister had promised bank reforms. Instead of doing that he is using the banks for fanciful populist schemes. The latest Credit Suisse report warns that India’s banking industry can collapse if its problems are not quickly addressed.

In mere 18 months this government has completely alienated neighbours, including the good old faithful Nepal, with whom the PM professed to have good relations. Today these ties are at the lowest ebb in decades.

The economy is not looking up despite cheap oil. Investors in New York and London are hesitant to plough in their money amid such uncertainty.

To give a boost to our economic growth, reform and simplification of the tax system is a priority. Knowing it, the Prime Minister had promised a prompt move towards tax reform. Like everything else, he has shelved this too, indefinitely. Naturally, it does not bode well for our growth, business and investment.

The magician is losing charm by the hour, running out of tricks. We fear he may plan something like Gujarat 2002 (the dreaded Gujarat Model), or even a war, to recapture our attention. God forbid, our fears seem plausible in the light of our experience. Scapegoats and diversions come handy in such situation.

We will be happy to have a more hopeful scenario from professional experts. It should be both optimistic and realistic.


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