ARE WE HEADING FOR A THIRD FRONT AND INSTABILITY? The widespread corruption exposed during UPA-2, the ‘failures’ of the coalition government in delivering on public expectations and strong anti-incumbency factor. It will be an uphill task for the UPA to again come to power in centre. Can it survive public anger when they come to exercise their power to enthrone or dethrone a party? If not, then would the BJP led NDA be right in being optimistic? Or any third front will fill the vacuum? The correct picture will dawn only after results are declared. By A. Hameed Yousuf The long-awaited Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill could not be tabled in the ongoing session of the Parliament due to stiff opposition from various parties, including some so-called secular ones. With this failure, the little hope that the bill might be passed in the 15th Lok Sabha has ended. Now, the bill has been put into limbo for a time unknown. It has been almost a decade since the Congress party assured in its election manifesto that it was concerned about security of the minorities—it is they who are targeted mostly in any communal violence— and so was sincerely concerned about an effective legislation in this regard. It is still a promise unfulfilled, though. It was undoubtedly due to lack of political will that the UPA could not have the bill passed in a span of 10 years. The conviction shown regarding the vote- promising Food Security Bill could also have paved the way for legislation of the communal violence bill. But, who cares if minorities lose their lives and properties? Even though unsafe 10 EASTERN CRESCENT | MARCH 2014
minorities, tarnish the shining face of a democracy. Such a callous attitude of the Congress, in certain matters, has been increasingly keeping minorities away from it.The largest minority, Muslims, has praised the UPA 2 for the passage of Wakf (Amendment) Bill, 2010, which the experts believe is strong and will be an important
The minorities, for whose protection the bill may be a great initiative are disappointed. They feel cheated again by the UPA. However, this was not unexpected.
means of securing waqf properties and ensuring that their benefits reach the Muslim community. But on the communal violence bill issue, which undoubtedly will help protect the dearest thing of a man i.e. life, the Congress has been a big letdown. This seems to be mainly because its passing will influence the elections. Muslims may be pleased; but the
vast majority of the Hindus will not be supportive, if not disenchanted, with the Congress—already carrying a heavy burden of corruption cases against it. The minorities, for whose protection the bill may be a great initiative, are disappointed. They feel cheated again by the UPA. However, this was not unexpected. The Congress is a master of the art of lip service. In addition, even in the absence of any practical measures if it has been tasting power and this is mainly because the secular-minded public does not have any other option available to them when they go out for casting votes. However, in 2014 the scenario may change. With a burden of unfulfilled promises, misrule and mega scandals, the Congress will find it much difficult to move to the power in the centre. The recently concluded assembly elections’ results were a huge disappointment for the party. In those elections the Bharatiya Janata Party gained but not to a satisfactory degree. In Delhi, its dreams were shattered in the same way as the expectations of the Congress fell by the wayside. The unexpected
The AAP will be cutting in the secular votes of the Congress but these secular voters will be those who are worried due to corruption.
emergence of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) not only snatched the power from the Congress and kept the BJP away from the chair, it also indicated the same could be the condition in all the other states where people have other options than the Congress and the BJP. But here it is worth mentioning that the AAP caused more damage to the Congress than the BJP, mainly because of the anti-incumbency factor. But political pundits expecting 11 EASTERN CRESCENT |MARCH 2014
a similar scenario in the next election may find that things may not turn out according to present calculations. Moreover, this brings us to the non-Congress and non-BJP third front. Such a front was though a failed experience in the past; efforts are on to form a new combination with the inclusion of non-Congress and nonBJP parties. Interestingly, the question arises as to why the parties gathering on the third front platform are using the slogan of secularism while there is already a secular front? Why will the regional stalwarts like Mulayam Singh, Nitish Kumar and Mamata Banerjee be not gathering on the already existent
secular platform of UPA? Secularism is only an euphemism to mask their prime ministerial ambitions. The old formula of the Congress of not allowing any regional leader to become so great as to challenge its hierarchal leadership explains why these parties hesitate in being an ally of the UPA. But it is not the whole case. These parties had once been allies either of the UPA or outside supporters of the governing coalition. Yet, if they opt for going alone or gather under another banner, it is mainly because they have anticipated the public mood is against the Congress due to its misrule and in case they are with the Congress, they
Special Report too will have to face the public wrath. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to see whether such a front is likely to be formed before the elections or after it. More importantly, the send question is will it offer stability or go the way of other such front as in the past. Public has renewed expectations from the proposed front. Since the front will include regional parties, with strong grip over the public, it will be a success, it is believed. But who will
question. In fact, on various fronts the UPA 2 led by the Congress has failed people’s expectations. During its rule if on one hand inflation has gone uncontrolled making it quite difficult for aam aadmi to arrange two square meals, and then on the other hand those in power were found pocketing public money. The media convinced the public, and rightly so, that the money sluiced through mega scandals could have been used for public welfare.
bills” in its full 5 year term: just “165 as opposed to an average of 317 bills that other governments finishing their 5 year terms have managed to pass according to data compiled by PRS Legislative.” The cacophony in parliament in the last few years has ensured that as many as 56 bills including the The Direct Taxes Code Bill may lapse with the dissolution of 15th Lok Sabha, a report in the DNA newspaper pointed out.
The government, which promised improvement on every front, has failed. Whether in the case of tackling Maoist problem or farmer suicides, or dealing with corruption or reduction of poverty. It could not ensure safety to Muslim youth who continue to be framed in fabricated terror charges and prosecuted. We come now to the legislation front. Here too, it could not do well. In a report titled “UPA 2 to finish term with worst track record on passage of bills” Business Standard writes,regarding passage of bills the record of the UPA 2 is “dubious”. It has passed “the least number of
Bills piled up in the Rajya Sabha can be either carried forward or junked by the incoming government, but those in the lower house will become history, pouring water over years of hard work and negotiations. “The current term of the Lok Sabha is an illustration of how law makers have failed collectively in their basic duty to legislate. More than half of the scheduled time spent in parliament was unproductive. Over a third of all bills passed by the Lok Sabha witnessed less than one hour of debate, being rushed through hurriedly for the fear of disruptions. Moreover, despite broad cross-party
The current term of the Lok Sabha is an illustration of how law makers have failed collectively in their basic duty to legislate. More than half of the scheduled time spent in parliament was unproductive
be the leader of the front is something that would be interesting to see. The prospects that a third front other than the already existing UPA and NDA will be a successful experience is indicative of the public having become tired of the Congress and the BJP; which manage to hog the political scene. But they are now turning into Tweedledum and Tweedledee leaving as the aggressive Hindutva of the BJP which has been toned down. The public voted for the Congress twice in 2004 and again in 2009. Then why should they not vote for it in 2014, is a million dollar
12 EASTERN CRESCENT |MARCH 2014
Special Report consensus on several of the pending legislations, politicians have refused to collaborate and ensure their quick passage,” adds the report. All these facts paint the UPA negatively which may cost it dearly in the 2014 general elections. Such a scenario, perhaps, makes the statement of the Congress senior leader Mr. Janardan Dwivedi sensible that the UPA instead of opting for sitting in the chair after 2009 should have preferred the role of a constructive opposition. This done, he said, the party would have been in a position to form the
has failed to erase the impression of a Government under siege. However, it can take credit for an array of things, including the right to free and compulsory education, FDI in multibrand retail, decontrolling diesel prices and drafting the Food Security Bill, Land Acquisition and Lokpal Bill, initiating direct benefit transfer scheme and land for the landless to build houses.” A report cited by Prime Minister’s Office titled “10 years of progress and growth” count some achievements of the UPA in both its tenures.
*Food security- There has been a three-fold increase in food subsidy during UPA tenure. The Food Security Act will entitle 35 kg of food-grains per month and other families for 5 kg per person at subsidised rates. *Rural employment- The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is the largest welfare scheme of its kind in the world started in 2006. Wages given under the scheme per day have almost doubled from Rs.65 to Rs. 128 since the launch of the scheme. In 2012-13, the scheme provided employment
The Congress also lost an opportunity to keep secular votes intact by not showing real interest in passing the communal violence bill.
next government in 2014. A simple conclusion drawn from the statement is that to form the government in 2009 was a judgemental error of the Congress that will deprive it of power in the upcoming elections. It could have garnered sympathy for forgoing corruption by its coalition partners, instead of being glued to their chairs. However, this does not mean that the UPA 2 had only disappointment for the public during its whole tenure. Writes Aliya Abbas in an article published on niticentral. com, “Despite its best efforts, UPA II
13 EASTERN CRESCENT | MARCH 2014
* Education - India has achieved “near universal education” at the primary school level due to Right to Education and the dropout rates have also decreased. Central universities increased from 17 to 44 during 2004-13. *Farmer welfare - Minimum support prices (MSP) for wheat and paddy has been doubled since 2004, while MSP for other grains have increased three fold. The new Land Acquisition Act will provide livelihood rehabilitation and financial benefits for the affected people.
to over 4.98 crore households, generating more than 213 crore person-days of employment. *HealthcareConsistent investment in public healthcare showed reduction in infant and maternal mortality rates, while life expectancy has improved. Thjere has been an absence of new endemic polio case for the last three years. *Economic growth - Per capita income in India has grown three fold since UPA came to power. The average GDP growth during the period of UPA government has been 7.7 percent despite two global slowdowns. *Infrastructure - More than 2 lakh km of new roads have been added to the rural road network.
Special Report Allocation for PradhanMantri Gram SadakYojana has increased by 88 percent in the 12th Five Year Plan. *Direct benefit transfer and Aadhaar card- The UID has issued more than 51 crore Aadhaar cards giving people access to direct benefit transfer in 184 districts. *Development of Northeast : Internal security has improved and the growth rate in north-eastern region is now higher than national average. *Governance and transparency - Right to information, second administrative reforms commission, and e-governance ensured transparency. Among the anticorruption measures, the government was able to bring the Lokpal Act, as also the Whistle Blowers Protection Bill, Grievance Redressal Bill, and Amendment to Prevention of Corruption Act. *Security of women and children - The law was amended to provide stringent punishment for sexual offences against women and children. The government has also passed the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. Moreover, the UPA can also take credit that no major riots, except the latest one in Muzaffarnagar, took place, during its 10 years of rule. But there is its inability to provide security to common people, especially of the minority community, which will haunt it. It could not ensure that the minorities no longer have to dwell in a sense of insecurity. It failed on the front of terrorism and during both its tenures terrorists were let loose while innocents were punished. Union Home Minister Mr. Sushil 14 EASTERN CRESCENT | MARCH 2014
Cong Stalled AntiCommunal Violence Bill, Says Mulayam Samajwadi Party national president Mulayam Singh Yadav accused the Congress of stalling the anti-communal violence bill under pressure from ‘communal forces’. Demanding immediate tabling of the bill in the Lok Sabha, he said: “Only the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is opposing the bill. All other parties are in favor of it but the Congress party itself does not want it to be passed. The sense that one got at the all-party meeting convened by the Lok Sabha speaker earlier this month was that except for the BJP no other party was against the bill. He also said that other parties had initially raised objections against certain parts of the bill and most of the objections were taken care of and a revised bill was now set to be tabled. Interestingly, the reports cited that along with other parties the Left and the SP also opposed the bill saying that the proposal atrophies the federal structure by encroaching upon the right of state governments to maintain law and order.
Kumar Shinde dared not to cling to his statement about terrorism, let alone act against the terrorists. The Congress also lost an opportunity to keep secular votes intact by not showing real interest in passing the communal violence bill. Although, the Congress knows it well that its vote base is the secular section of the Indian society. If this group detaches, from the Congress it may land it in a soup. However, as mentioned earlier, it will not mean that the BJP will be triumphant. The media has been propagating Modi-ism as the only way out for India from ‘economic’ crisis. But we should not fear that Indian voters have become so stupid as to coronate a communal person. The communalism in Gujarat Chief Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and his dictatorial actions and arrogance couplked with a strong dose of me-tooism as exhibited during his speeches are enough reasons to keep the seculars away from the BJP. It was supposed that the middle class urban youth might end up supporting the BJP, in the hope of its widely touted good development record in Gujarat. But the emergence of the mavewrick and disruptive actions of the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi and on national level, has damaged their prospects. The AAP will be cutting into the secular votes of the Congress but these secular voters will be those who are worried due to corruption and in absence of any alternative they could have gone to the BJP or abstained from voting giving a rise in the voting percentage of the BJP. Says S. Q. R Ilyas, general secretary of the recently formed Welfare Party of India, “Whenever a
Some Of The Key Bills Which Could Not Be Passed •
The Prevention of Communal Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill which aims at protecting minorities from targeted attacks and has deeply polarized politicians and activists.
6 anti-corruption legislations including - The Whistle Blowers Protection Bill,2011 that establishes a mechanism to receive complaints of corruption and protect the Whistle Blower and The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 that makes the act of bribing a public servant a criminal offence.
The Securities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2013 which widens the definition of collective investment schemes and empowers SEBI for search and seizure operations - a critical legislation framed in the backdrop of the Saradha chit fund scam and the ongoing case against the Sahara Group is also on the agenda.
The National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 which provides statutory backing for the Aadhaar scheme of the government through the establishment of the National Identification Authority.
The Women’s Reservation Bill, 2008 - which provides 33% reservation for women in Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies and has been pushed by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi could also come up for discussion. It has been gathering dust for decades after it was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in 1996. (Courtesy: BS)
secular alternative at the state level has emerged, the Muslims have voted for it. In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress is no longer coming to power. In Bihar, as its situation is pathetic.” Sanjay Kumar, psephologist and fellow at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) points out, “In states, where the Congress is up against a regional force, there is already a shift of the Muslim vote away from Congress. Like in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Assam. In these states, the Muslim voters have a choice. In Bihar, for 15 EASTERN CRESCENT | MARCH 2014
example they have voted for Lalu Prasad Yadav in a big way in several elections. In Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party (SP) has been a popular choice (getting almost 50 percent of the Muslim vote). This shift of the Muslim vote away from Congress has already begun.” However, Kumar predicts the shift away from the Congress could widen, come 2014. “Now looking forward to 2014, in states where it is a bi-polar contest between the Congress and the BJP, I don’t think Muslim voters have a choice. Whether they are happy
or dissatisfied, they will still vote for the Congress. But in states where they have a choice we might see more of a shift of the Muslim voters away from Congress towards regional parties.” But since in some very crucial states such Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh (after Jaganmohan Reddy), Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Kerala regional parties are very strong, they will spoil the political calculations of the Congress. And the same they will do with the BJP. Then, should we hope a Prime Minister coming from the Third Front?