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...