Wanted: A head for government
Paradoxically, no party, including the main Opposition BJP, wants the Congress-led government to go before completing its full five-year term because...
Paradoxically, no party, including the main Opposition BJP, wants the Congress-led government to go before completing its full five-year term because the UPA's failures are scoring points for non-Congress parties
Indian political parties are in a quandary, not that we are not: Who will be the next prime minister of the second most populous country in the world? One may tend to think that it is too early to speculate as the elections are more than a year away from now. But the way both national and regional parties are bandying around their leaders at the drop of a hat, they give the impression that the parliamentary polls are round the corner. Indeed, a post mid-term election that was considered a distant possibility at one time seems nearing with every political crisis. Only a couple of days ago, the government was on the verge of falling when the ruling United Progressive Alliance's coalition partner DMK pulled out over Tamil fraternal issue across Palk Strait. But for two other regional parties willing to prop up the wobbling government, it would have collapsed. There is no danger, we have been told, since the alliance has the requisite numbers to complete its term.A Paradoxically, no party, including the main Opposition BJP, wants the Congress-led government to go before completing its full five-year term because the UPA's failures are scoring points for non-Congress parties. Moreover, nobody wants to risk political future by toppling a government whose fifth year countdown has already started. So the show goes on until next year when it needs to present its audience a new orchestrator. Selecting him � at the moment no woman is being considered � is not an easy job. Unlike in the West, we have to consider many things like family lineage, vote banks, reservations, quotas, etc. Loyalty also does matter; so does the right connection. Even if one has all the qualities, he should be willing to shoulder the responsibility of not only heading a government but also making a large contingent of ministers work without rancor and in unison. Discordant notes are common and occur so regularly that the leader has to turn deaf and turn a blind eye to routine scams and scandals which have become part of our life. Being young helps to attract Gen X, Y and Z. They are all the emerging and energetic generation which is capable of turning anything upside down if something goes wrong. At the same time, establishing a rapport with young and old, disgruntled, unhappy and never-want-to-leave plum posts geriatric gentry is an added qualification. It will be cool to be on the same wavelength as twitterati, googlers, youtubers, et al. It is essential to communicate with them in cyberspace to accomplish a few things on the ground. Since 70 per cent of the population is young, it needs a leader with zing to motivate and move the country forward without shaking its foundations. Who fills the bill? Which is the face that can propel one of the two national parties, Congress and the BJP, to power in 2014 with the support of regional parties which too are nursing PM ambitions. Though our system of parliamentary democracy is modeled on Westminster, under which the party in majority in parliament will choose its leader to run the country for five years, in recent times that norm has become a mere ritual with a potential candidate to win the maximum number of party seats being projected as the man to run the nation. Perchance, if none is found, a candidate acceptable to all is the next best choice. Even if it fails to materialize a worthy one, the position could be thrust upon somebody. We have had all the examples at different times. Having realized the difficulties in crowning a leader, particularly when his Cabinet's survival is dependent upon the whims and fancies of small and regional parties, the wise option left for top party brass is to pick a candidate and declare him as the future PM if it comes to power. By doing so, confusion is eliminated and the winning horse is named. It is similar to parties naming their candidates in the presidential form of government like the US. The party nominates a person who has to fight his own battle in the House and outside of it. Such political model has a distinct advantage as far as the 'face' is concerned. Once the party stalwarts zero in on a candidate, his future is sealed, win or lose. But endorsement of the candidacy depends on many factors besides his/her political base, appearance, charisma, youth appeal, dress sense, family (including pets), views on contemporary things, domestic and foreign policy, his past and what he may do in future, etc. Voters will decide who to make President based on the sum total evaluation of the candidate. In other words, what Christopher Marlowe said in Doctor Faustus referring to Helen of Troy "the face that launched a thousand ships," the party candidate should have a face that can make millions of voters cast their ballots in his favour. In our case, over 700 million voters are eligible to cast their ballots and those who are ready to throw their hats into the ring should be able to garner support from the length and breadth of the country. At present the PM material candidates are fewer than those with ambitions and aspirations. They have to remove their masks before revealing themselves. They may be good, bad and ugly. The suspense continues for some months.