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Channelising governance

Channelising governance

The political scenario is indeed captivating during elections as the democratic exercise witnesses vivid cross-accusations and a plethora of promises. Congress released its manifesto for the Lok Sabha general elections on Tuesday which expectedly drew sharp criticism from BJP. Leading the criticism was Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who interpreted Congress's manifesto as a collective of "dangerous ideas" which could lead to the "Balkanisation" of India. Condemning the promise to decriminalise sedition and amend AFSPA, Jaitley asserted how Congress has always been soft on terror and wants to further soften on it and separatism. The gravity of the situation that Jaitley wants us to understand is that Congress's attempt to scrap the colonial law and amend AFSPA is detrimental to the nation – a quality of bad governance. Sedition had done its rounds when the entire JNU episode rocked the nation. Kanhaiya Kumar, now a CPI candidate from Begusarai, was at the centre of an ensuing debate whether sedition – an archaic law of colonial vintage – deserved to be part of contemporary India or not. The provisions of the colonial law have been covered in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Law which also has procedural safeguards that the sedition law lacks. Condemning an attempt to scrap it is advocating for a law that has served as a tool to suppress dissenting voices, often coming in conflict with the freedom of expression by capitalising on the thin line between sedition and general dissent. Jaitley opined on how Congress does not deserve "even a single vote" for its promises, including doing away with sedition but these votes that he audaciously spoke on behalf of are not under his control by any means. These votes are independent minds that can reason Congress's promises and BJP's stance on sedition per se. And, as per the discussions on the colonial law which ensued following the JNU sedition row, there may be many who will vote for Congress. His sophisticated expression of Congress's promises that will lead to the "Balkanisation" of India made headlines as people were treated to his interpretation of the ramifications which will follow should Congress be voted to power. Balkanisation, by definition, is a geopolitical term for the process of fragmentation or division of a region or state into smaller states that are often hostile or uncooperative with each other. India has a federal government with diverse states coming together to stitch the boundaries of the nation as they brought about the Union of India into existence since Independence. If Congress's manifesto had even a hint of such drastic intent as the balkanisation of the nation, the experts would have criticised and the media and dailies would have expressed so. Jaitley's apprehensions maybe real but same does not look conducive in general.

BJP asserts that under the strong leadership of Modi - who has stitched the national narrative with nationalism and national security banked on defence advancement and progress – a 'new' India will thrive. But the seemingly autocratic stance of the Modi government with institutional subversion and subterfuge – to bring Electoral Bonds scheme – contradicts that. Bringing the various machinations by the government into the discussions would have made more sense to the general audience rather than citing dire consequences based on personal apprehensions. Criticising Congress's manifesto which aims to address the adversities existing under the Modi administration and branding the promises under it as the work of "tukde tukde" gang – a euphemism for those whom BJP felt were out to break the integrity of the Indian state, namely Maoists and ultra-Leftists – is expected from a pro-right perspective. It is strange that electoral promises, by and large, focus on the other party's pitfalls and consequent remedies to that instead of amplifying public opinion. While Congress, through its crowdsourcing step, wants to present a pro-people manifesto, BJP wants to ensure that the pro-nationalism mood lasts to usher them to a successive term. Both have welfare schemes at their disposal and the pros and cons of their respective terms are out there to judge on voter's discretion. It would be in the interest of the nation if our political leaders refrain from these petty accusations and abject criticism, focussing more on their efforts towards the development and welfare of the nation – both in actions as well as words – and deliver once in power. Good (or bad) governance should not be advocated but should be felt and in this regard, attempts made by parties to woo the voters with promises and apprise them of others' shortcomings are nothing but machinations to lure them. Citizens are capable of reasoning the developments and accordingly choosing the government. They need not be apprised about consequences as such. That energy is better used in delivering good governance and criticism can be saved for counter-productivity, not denigrating the other.

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