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Ever opaque


Nobody knew by what process Vijay Bahuguna was made Chief Minister of Uttarakhand by the Congress party. By what process he had been removed remains just as opaque. It is interesting that the party expects someone who has not emerged through the democratic process that obtained it a majority in the assembly, to lead it to future electoral victories. What about those who had actually led the successful electoral campaign? Where do they go when an entirely unassociated person takes over the helm of government? It is no wonder that incumbent governments have not been able to win re-election in the state.

Harish Rawat headed the state unit of the Congress when the party won the first assembly elections in Uttarakhand. He was, however, overlooked and the Chief Minister’s job given to ND Tiwari. In spite of triggering a developmental boom in the state, Tiwari could not ensure the party’s electoral victory. After the second assembly win, a leader was once again appointed by the High Command without regard to or understanding of the electoral verdict. Now, there has been another turnaround and a new leader will be imposed on the state.

Of what value is the people’s mandate if it is to be interpreted through one’s standing with the ‘High Command’? Is it not possible for the state unit of the party to have a leadership that takes its own decisions and, yet, can be considered ‘loyal’ to the Centre? Or, are the MLAs to be kept ‘bonsai-ed’ so that they can never emerge as a challenge, requiring always to be led by the party’s men from Delhi? The arrangement has not worked very well, so far, and the situation might get even worse if a ‘self-respect movement’ gathers force among the voters as it did in the Delhi elections, recently.

Why can’t the Congress function as a modern and democratically functional party in accord with the needs of the people? Whatever their quality in objective terms, the MLAs have been chosen by the voters, in preference to a number of candidates from other parties; surely they have something to contribute if given the opportunity? At the present, it seems most of them are beholden, first, to regional satraps for the party ticket and, thus, belong to one ‘camp’ or the other. On being elected, they continue to indulge in factional politics irrespective of the larger needs of the party. It is the satraps who get together to ‘allow’ one or the other among them to become ‘Chief’. If the ‘Chief’ cannot maintain a balance, he is maneuvered out of power. (There has not been a ‘her’, as yet.)

In all of this, what happens to the people’s mandate? When a person votes for a candidate, is it for a people’s representative or a satrap’s nominee? Are the people there merely to select between regional bosses from various parties? Clearly, the way things are nowadays, there is no exercise of real choice. In all the power play and serving the interests of the party bosses, it is a wonder an MLA can get any work done for his or her constituents. Which is probably why it never gets done in most cases!

About time the voters not only make the choices, but also begin asserting their will if the electoral process is to prove more fruitful.