Monday, June 25, 2012

The difference between Akhilesh Yadav and Mamata Banerjee….

She may be a bigger veteran in politics, but Mamata surely has a lot to learn from young Akhilesh Yadav. Both set out to achieve the same goal – procuring resources from the Center for their state. Both knew the central government was vulnerable and both used pressure tactics. But one was savvier than the other. The savvier one has ensured that his state gets the resources it wants; the aggressive and uncouth bully on the other hand will go back empty handed. If this message is repeated a few times, it would do a hell of a lot of good for our politics.

The TOI today reports a “deal” between the SP and the UPA, as part of which, as much as Rs 90,000 crores of resources will be directed towards UP. Now everyone knows that UP needs these resources if it has to progress. So does West Bengal, which after more than three decades of Left rule, has gone totally off the Right path (pun intended!). But unfortunately for WB, their leader has got drowned in a dangerous concoction of a bloated personal ego, intellectual dinosaurism (if ever there was a word like that!) and aggressive bullying and totally ineffective tactics. Smart politics is what Akhilesh is practising. He went to the PM, asked for the center’s resources, promised his support in return and came back with his hands full. No doubt, he must have wielded the baton too….but that would have been decently concealed. Given the general demeanous of the PM, it would not even have been required. A good deal would have been stuck, in which the center got support for reforms in return for the financial support that the state wanted.

Akhilesh Yadav is a shrewd pragmatist. I guess it comes with the age. Youngsters want to “get the things done”. Oldies want to fight on for some arbitrary and archaic “principle”. Youngsters get pride from being seen as doers. Oldies from winning pyrrhic victories on needless issues. This one difference makes youngsters so much more effective in doing business, while the oldies stay entrenched in power politics. Mamata may be in young in age, but this is one characteristic of youngsters that she certainly doesn’t possess.

One doesn’t know if the TOI report is entirely correct. The reason I bring this up is because many reports in media these days are speculative and based on motivated canards. Just look at the conspiracy theories that emerged after the Mantralaya fire in Mumbai. TV news channels fanned theories that the fire was a sabotage. And more than hinted that the state government had intentionally staged it so that vital documents could be destroyed. Documents that could incriminate the Congress and its government in Maharashtra. To be sure, media hid itself behind a thin veil. Media didn’t itself created the conspiracy theories. It just amplified what some opposition leaders and some cant-speak-enough activists and look-everything-is-corrupt Anna crusaders said. The foremost of them all was what I call Scam TV – a news channels that relies entirely on scams (mostly imagined of course) – which went hammer and tongs after the state government. Today this channel has been silenced. The preliminary investigations undertaken by experts reveal that the fire may have been caused by some explosion in the hydrogen batteries of servers. There were problems with where the back-up batteries were lodged and if the space had been better designed, the fire would have been easily contained. All true….but there doesn’t appear to be any conspiracy at all. The CM also said that all files would be retrieved within a month (how? Since all government papers have copies that are sent to a multitude of departments) and that absence of papers wouldn’t be a reason for delays. Scam TV of course forgot to even mention this development on its prime time show yesterday! And of course the original conspiracy theorists would say that the investigations are all rigged!

But assuming that the news report of Akhilesh’s deal with the center is correct, what does it mean for us all? Does it explain the little display of confidence that we are now seeing from the PM and his government? The PM made some strong statements at Rio and at the G-20 about taking bold measures to kick start the economy. Anand Sharma – Minister of Commerce – also has made some uncharacteristically bold statements about it being the state’s call whether to allow FDI in multi-brand retail; that no state could block other states from exercising their right. There are reports that the cobwebs on some other reforms are being dusted off. If all this is true, it is great news. The deal with Akhilesh would have been a good one; one that would help the country pull itself out of the policy freeze it finds itself in.

Let’s wait and see what happens. But one thing is clear. WB’s loss is UP’s gain. Hopefully the people of Bengal will read the message clearly. And hopefully this time, they won’t take more than three decades to do what they need to do.

The real truth is that in a mulit-layered and multi-dimensional country like us; one whose people are restless for rapid progress; politicians must learn to do business, even as they play their usual games. The people have no patience for hard positions. They want action. Akhilesh has shown that he can get what he wants in a business-like spirit…..that should be a lesson for all

No comments:

Post a Comment