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Election 2009’s turning point??

L.K. Advani proved yet once again, why he is the Chanakya. As a leader, and the prime minister of this country, I have my reservations against him. But, as a politician and a strategist, yesterday he delivered what could possibly be a crucial blow to the government by calling the Prime Minister to a televised national debate. When Manmohan Singh lashed out against Advani 3 days back, I was surprised and impressed. Yesterday, it was Advani’s turn to impress me.

In an era where political leadership is seeing a global transformation across the world, the educated masses have been hoping for an American style of presidential debate in India. With the PMO refusing Advani’s challenge, the repurcussions, I believe, will be felt as the campaigning progresses, and clearly, Advani has won this round. By inviting Manmohan Singh for an open debate, he has taken responded to Manmohan’s accusations without adding any further mudslinging, character assasination and yet dwelving on his strength, oratory. I am sure that Advani threw open this challenge only because he was 100% sure the Congress would go on the back foot. By squashing his challenge, the Congress has lost out on an opportunity to confuse Advani, and to make a stand that Manmohan Singh can defend himself in an hour of need, and most importantly, convince the educated voters that not only do we have an educated prime minister, but also an assertive one.

In my opinion, the Congress could have emerged more victorious from a national debate. Agreed that in any national debate, the ruling party is always on the defensive as it is easy to highlight their failures from the previous term. Congress could not have dwelved on NDA’s failures as it is too far back into history. That said, I am sure that this was the ideal platform for Manmohan Singh to outline his successes, use numbers to substantiate them, and share his vision for the next 5 years. In a national debate, Advani could not have involved in mudslinging, as this could drive away educated voters. Also, since the debate would have been moderated, both the national parties would have to answer questions relevant to the voters.

Whether the Congress did not trust their PM candidate to stand Advani’s verbose skills or they did not carry out enough reforms to face the electorate, or they realised that their manifesto is more populist than reformatory, this was their one chance to clear the mess they are spiralling towards. And they missed it. Not that the BJP is in any lesser mess. But if at all anything, the centre will be decided by the regional parties, the third front, and the fourth front.

The Indian Election Tamasha is like a James Hadley Chase thriller! No one knows the end… but we all know how we reach the end… In a rather ugly manner!

P.S. If there were to be a national debate in India, it reiterates my belief that post poll alliances must be banned. We must have alliances and PM candidates declared before the elections. If the third front takes itself seriously, they must have a leader capable enough to talk ’sense’ on national TV. Not build statues of herself, create a mess in the name of law and order and extort loot money from the working class. More abt the post-poll alliances, later. :)

P.P.S. If there can be the Bihar-UP Secular front (HAHAHAHAHA), then why can't the educated independents contesting across the country come together and form the 5th front? :) Food for thought...


Tushar Mangl said…
Shiv, the problem is that don't you think it will look embarrassing for the Prime Minister to take Sonia Gandhi along, on the debate stage?
because without her consent, he will not be able to say anything there...

But yes, this would have been him moment, if he would have taken up the dare. His first and the last chance ever to come out of being a puppet of his madam.

As for Advani, he is a smart politician. Like all of us, he too knows the real worth of Mr.Singh. He has been a journalist in the past, and even the information and broadcasting minister in the Jan Sangha govt.
He appears so very ease with the media, especially if you see his interviews.

he played his cards not only well, but also with some what dignified manner. For mudslinging can never come to end. And only a mature and experienced politician can handle this so well.
Shiv said…
:) In my opinion, Sonia Gandhi is the shrewdest politician we have today. And I mean it as a compliment. From the tatters she received in the name of Congress in the late 90's where they were reduced to supporting the third front, she has brought about a two dimensional growth as far as the Congress is concerned. She is grooming young sensible leaders who have it in them to make the change, and at the same time due to contemporary political compulsions, sticking to the coalition mantra.

To be honest, I am sure none of us see a majority this election. It is going to be a joke. Raw, naked and brutal exposure of the human lust for power. That is what this election is going to stand for. But as far as 2014 is concerned, Congress might be ready.

That said, you gotta give credit to Advani. Chanakya indeed! :)
Tushar Mangl said…
I dont have the numbers to point out your mistake, Shiv but Sonia Gandhi has been able to win almost as many seats as Sitaram Kesri did, as the president of the INC.
Her shrewdness, comes from the fact that she enjoys absolute authority on our country, minus any kind of responsibility or accountability
And it is less of her shrewdness but more of our foolishness and shame.
Saim said…
dun agree with the above comment though there is no doubt in my mind that MS comes out very weak looking after declining this offer.
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Anurag said…
interestingly, i was hoping that our foreign educated PM who is also a noted economist would come out all guns blazing and gladly accept the national debate offer.. the debate would surely have increased the transparency in the system as the educated class in india never becomes aware of the true knowledge and ability of its leaders.. a golden opportunity missed.. nice post indeed..
Shiv said…
Tushar, I think Sonia Gandhi was chiefly instrumental in bringing Congress back to life. Comparing her to Sitaram Kesari might be a little harsh on her. In the 90's the Congress was filled with charges of corruption, and from a party that used to command 450 seats in Lok Sabha, it was reduced to less than 120. Post election, by bringing in Manmohan Singh, she managed to get a Mr.Clean PM, and someone who could 'hope to' step into Vajpayee's shoes. With Rahul Gandhi focusing in UP for over 4 years, the Congress is definitely bound to get more seats in the state than the last 15 years. Today, if the Congress wins the election, it has some good names to boast of in the Centre. Pranad Mukherjee (as may be the Home Minister), Chidambaram as the Finance Minister, someone like a Scindia who has been introduced into the Telecom ministry, and Shashi Tharoor as the Foreign Minister. BJP cannot boast of any such leadership.

The challenge of contemporary politics is satisfying your allies, and building for the future. The BJP, despite giving good governance in all its states, has not managed to change its communal politics. Every time the BJP (can be extended to the other NDA allies like Shiv Sena) is not in power, it is responsible for communal riots in India.

Unfortunate for a party that has a consistent track record of good governance, that it can only think of coming to power by dividing the nation.
Shiv said…
Confortably Numb / Saim / Anurag: Thanks for ur comments. Advani is playing some brilliant tricks right now. With all the NDA allies running helter skelter post Godhra, Advani is now calling for Swiss Bank Account details to be shared, inviting Sonia Gandhi for a debate, and playing a balancing act brilliantly with the Varun Gandhi episode. The Congress, unfortunately, is struggling to catch up! Can't wait for the BJP manifesto, which will be the clincher! But, I still believe BJP does not have faces. Does not have answers to the current economic turmoil, and most importantly, does not have a political will to involve in politics of substance, but rather believes in politics of religion.
bookrazy said…
I agree on your assessment of the Congress. However, the BJP does have a few faces. Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Arun Jaitley, etc. have good experience at the Centre, and can do good for India in the economy and internationally. But their communal politics is a major stumbling block that will push a lot of voters away from them.
Frankly, I think it is time Sonia took over as PM, and have Manmohan as deputy PM and finance minister. She shrewd, as you sadi, and has built up a moderate mass appeal. I think having a woman, and a foreigner, at the helm might actually help India's image now. Sonia can at least be a lot tougher and meaner as PM than Manmohan, who has the force of a falling feather.

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