Heartening moves in Delhi, Hyderabad
Ramachandra Murthy: Heartening moves in Delhi, Hyderabad, Two most controversial politicians who were loved and hated with equal intensity for what they said and the way they said and did are about to begin new innings of great promise.
Two most controversial politicians who were loved and hated with equal intensity for what they said and the way they said and did are about to begin new innings of great promise. Both of them started their journey towards their chosen goals more than a decade ago. Excellent orators who are known for selecting appropriate language befitting the occasion and the intended effect, they are going about their new task forming governments in right earnest.
While Narendra Bhai Modi travelled a great deal from his humble beginnings to be the chief executive of a great country like India, Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR) left Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the position of Deputy Speaker of AP Assembly to tread what appeared like a lonely furrow, and struggled for years with robust optimism that a separate of Telangana would be a reality in his lifetime. He is going to preside over the destiny of the new State.
Naveen Patnaik of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) was sworn in on Wednesday and Nara Chandrababu Naidu, the TDP chief, is about to take oath as Chief Minister. Being a CM is nothing new to Naidu who ruled a bigger, united AP for nine years and was the Opposition leader for ten years. His challenge is to summon all his energies and innovative skills to build a new capital and a new State. His capabilities and strategies are largely familiar and he can be trusted to do an excellent job of making Singapore of Seemandhra. Naveen Patnaik has just begun his fourth innings. A Chief Minister who did not have to face anti-incumbency even after three terms, he need not worry about stability if he can continue his good work.
Narendra Modi and KCR stand on a different footing. Modi has been an exceptionally successful Chief Minister of Gujarat but he has to prove himself as PM since administering a small western State is different from ruling a vast and diverse country like India. KCR was a minister in TDP government but he has now got a rare opportunity to be the first CM of the new State of Telangana. Running a successful mass movement and a high-voltage election campaign is one thing and building a new State taking everybody along is quite another. Hence, Modi and KCR will be watched by the countrymen with great interest and expectations.
The enormity of what Modi had achieved single-handedly in the general elections finally caught up with him when he was making the acceptance speech after getting elected as the leader of BJP and NDA parliamentary parties and the 14th Prime Minister of India. The way he went down on his knees and touched his forehead to the doorsteps of Parliament’s Central Hall might have appeared enacted and disingenuous to the cynics among us. But the way he went about his speech, cracking and choking referring to his mentor LK Advani’s good-hearted remark that because of Modi’s “kripa” an unprecedented victory for the BJP was possible. It was a highly emotional moment. Even to the hardened critics and non-supporters of Modi (who are almost 70 per cent of the voters since BJP had got only 30 per cent of the votes in the country), his performance was convincing.
Watching on the TV screen when Modi paused, sipped water and was silent for a while, when tears were rolling freely down Smriti Irani’s cheeks, when Ravi Shankar Prasad wiped his eyes, when Amit Shah, Modi’s pointsman for UP, took off his glasses and polished them violently, and Advani looking lost in thoughts - the moment was truly dramatic and captivating. It was a sight of an aggressive campaigner used to speaking at a high decibel attempting to turn a statesman showing the difference between the PM candidate and the PM-elect. Modi calling parliament a temple of democracy and recalling the services of the Constitution makers augur well. His reference to Deen Dayal Upadhyay, the ideologue and general secretary of the Jan Sangh, was meant to indicate to the RSS workers throughout the country that the ideology would remain in his heart. At the same time, he made it a point to dedicate his government to the poor. It is seen as an answer to the criticism mounted by the Congress campaigners that Modi is a representative of crony capitalism and he would not bother about the poor. Those who were apprehensive about Modi withdrawing the welfare subsidies soon after taking over the reins must have felt reassured. He surprised many by saying some good words about the outgoing government. He was not expected to speak about his roadmap for the country at this stage but creating wealth, improving manufacturing sector thus increasing job opportunities would be his top priority.
As a Chinese strategic thinker opined in his article in Global Times, Modi might prove to be a Nixon of India as far as China is concerned by helping resolve the nagging border dispute. The thinker also felt that Modi’s governance style and philosophy are very close to Chinese practices. Bidding farewell to Gujarat in the special session of the Assembly on Wednesday, the PM-elect explained what he meant by Gujarat Model of development, saying that it was essentially a bipartisanship. If his government can alleviate the people below the poverty line and make launching and running businesses and establishing industries possible in a law abiding way without having to cut corners and indulge in corruption, he would be justifying the confidence reposed in him by the youth of this country. We would, then, be happy to accept that good times have indeed arrived for the nation. More than the intelligent use of semiotics, the action to be followed would matter. KCR also made a remarkable acceptance speech in which he exhorted the newly elected MLAs not to stoop to make easy money but to use the opportunity to serve the people of Telangana. His initial moves in the process of forming the government seem to be steps in right direction. I have been writing against the non-serious attitude of the successive Chief Ministers when it came to appointing persons in important positions. YSR, Rosaiah and Kiran Kumar Reddy were not very careful in selecting right persons for right jobs. They believed in rehabilitating the lower cadre politicians who are not qualified for the post. A great legislation like RTI was made ineffective by opting to appoint persons of little caliber as Information Commissioners.
Kiran Reddy persisted even when Governor Narasimhan sent the file back once. If a person who is known for honesty and efficiency is appointed in an important position, positive signals would go to the people about the good intentions of the government. The fact that KCR has been consciously searching for capable officers endowed with integrity has already deposited goodwill in his account even before taking oath as CM. The names of senior IAS officers like Nagireddy or Chandana Khan for the position of Chief Secretary, Narsing Rao for the top slot in CMO, Sivadhar Reddy for the post of intelligence chief sound good. It does not mean that others in the race are bad or corrupt. But some names evoke respect and add to the credibility of the government. The caste equations and calculations may be unavoidable but they should not become a hindrance to suitable persons being appointed in key posts. Since it is the first government of a new State where a lot of systems have to be established and procedures evolved, top-level officers who work with focus and dedication would help. KCR has proved many a time that he is a shrewd politician and a man of extraordinary will and determination. The election results have given him an opportunity to prove his acumen as a builder and administrator.
Soon after emerging victorious, Chandrababu Naidu challenged KCR to compete with him in work. It would be wonderful to watch both Naidu and KCR compete with each other in serving the people in their respective States with the help of Modi in Delhi. We can be assured of stability and good governance at all levels. The civil society has to ensure that all the parties that are forming governments would adhere to their election manifestos. The manifestos presented by the TDP and the TRS appear almost similar. Any deviation from the manifestos or any act of irregularity has to be resisted by the society while supporting the good work done by the governments. Any undemocratic trend to vitiate the Constitutional arrangement and spirit has to be fought. We have so far watched Modi’s lips. We have to watch his steps hereafter. It applies to Naidu and KCR too. Only then would “Bangaru Telangana” and “Swarnandhra” be possible and India of our collective dreams becomes a reality.