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Millennium Post

Fundamental shifts in political climate

If something can be confidently said of the year 2013, it certainly this: it was the year in which Indian politics underwent a paradigm shift. The nature of engagement, political and governmental, electoral and civic, has changed fundamentally, and Indian politics has thrown up two very formats of ‘doing politics’, as it were, both, once again, different from the entrenched styles, be it dynasticism or cronyism, ‘dole-economics of mai baap sarkar’ or simply promoting private sector interests. With the advent of Arvind Kejriwal in the Capital’s political horizon and Narendra Modi in the national electoral theatre, stakes have been raised at all levels. Readjustments are being witnessed in every sphere, and even though completely different from each other, both Kejriwal and Modi represent a tectonic change in the shifting sands of Indian politics, breaking away from the crusty old aristocracy of decadent political entitlements. Whether or not it’s the ‘Indian Spring’, the two, albeit in markedly opposite ways, perhaps herald a ‘point zero’, with both effecting deep and long-term structural reconfigurations, coming down heavily on corrupting influences from the private sector and bureaucratic red tape in the public sector. While Kejriwal represents the left of the centre position on every major issue, forwarding people before structures and ensuring governance becomes citizen-friendly once again, Modi is squarely for a technocratic trouble-shooting and minimisation of disorder. Both address institutional shortcomings and want to work around the problem of distribution, in different degrees. However, it must be said that while the ghost of 2002, despite the latest clean chit and a near-apology, still haunts Modi, Kejriwal does have the advantage of having a clean slate, a hyperactive and extremely sharp mind as well as a determination to be the people’s person, the go-to man of the aam aadmi. Modi, for all his cult following and political mystique, is, nevertheless, a man shrouded in secrecy.

Given the massive political churns that 2013 saw happening, this has also been a most unpredictable year, with too many surprises under its belt. The UPA government went from bad to worse, and in spite of passing landmark bills such as Food Bill and Land Acquisition Bill, it got caught in its own net of unbridled greed and corruption, with new scams breaking and sending the union cabinet into a tizzy. The BJP, from a rudderless party of too many cooks spoiling the broth, coalesced under the charismatic leadership of Narendra Modi, who wrested the party reins from the older brass represented by L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj. The result was a visibly enthused BJP that swept the assembly elections in four major states, even though in the national capital, it was the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP that walked away with the cake despite coming second in the elections. Evidently, 2013 rejected the run-of-the-mill strategies deployed by Congress to score empty brownie points, such as opening and closing corruption cases against top regional leaders according to whims and fancies of the party top brass and the possibility of pre and post-poll alliances. Moreover, the UPA government also stooped to unbelievably base levels, using policy sabotages such as the CNG price hike to upend AAP’s chances of survival. Given that unsubstantiated reports in the corridors of power that be and the higher echelons of the big media already hint at possible blackouts and power outages as well as water shortages in the wake of massive overhaul and audit of power distribution companies, it remains to be seen if the changes that 2013 ushered in are temporary or permanent in nature.
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