ARUN JAITLEY : Is 2014 going to be substantially different in terms of India’s polity and governance? The bar of expectation of Indian people has been raised high. It is not merely the Indian middle class which is the strong opinion maker. There is additionally a substantial aspirational class in India whose level of expectations is entirely different. They are going to judge Indian politics, persons in public life and the quality of governance harshly. They will vote in governments and vote out governments if they found them not meeting popular aspirations.
The results of the elections to the four State assemblies held recently has conclusively established the point. Shri Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh successfully led the BJP to electoral victory for the third time because of his performance, more particularly because of his personal credibility. At any given point of time, polls rated his acceptability as higher than the BJP. Dr. Raman Singh’s personal credibility coupled with the success of the Public distribution system that he created saw the BJP through. Both these Chief Ministers served the people well. In Rajasthan the Congress Party’s government was marred by the allegations of misconduct of ministers and MLAs. The clear message of the electorate in these States was – whereas other factors including social and political combinations may be important, it was credibility that mattered the most.
In Delhi, the Congress government had lost its credibility. Delhi was the epicenter of anti-corruption movement in the past three years. The Congress had miserably failed on this count. It was therefore obvious that the Congress was a clear loser. Ordinarily, the BJP should have swept the poll. However, a section of the electorate was impressed with the idea of experimenting a new alternative. It was a silent protest against the quality of conventional politics that gave a significant number of votes to the Aam Aadmi Party. Even though the BJP emerged as the largest party in terms of votes and seats, the election results of Delhi are a cause of introspection for the BJP. Its State leaders as also individual candidates will have to measure up to popular expectations. Installation of Dr. Harshvardhan as Party’s unquestioned leader in Delhi is a step in the right direction. The BJP has decided to nationally approach ten crore households for collecting small donations for the party’s election expenses. However, the Party in Delhi will have to do a lot more in order to strengthen the perception of its own credibility.
If the political message of the New Year is that “Credibility matters” the Congress has still not learnt from its mistakes. Despite being routed in the four States, it has started the New Year with a baggage of two cover-ups. The Maharashtra government has rejected the report of the Commission of Inquiry which indicted several Congress leaders of considerable standing in the Adarsh scam. Such a cover-up can only defy public opinion and the popular expectation of cleaner and credible politics. Though the allegation against Shri Vir Bhadra Singh, the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh of impropriety, corruption, quid pro quo and conflict of interest are fairly conclusive, the Congress Party has shamelessly decided to hold demonstrations in support of the tainted Chief Minister. This is defiance of ethics which can only earn wrath of public opinion even more.
The people have clearly indicated that they want credible politics. Those who chose to defy this expectation can only risk their existence.