What led to NDA’s debacle

In his front-page editorial “The big change” (May 14), H.K. Dua has rightly summed up the reasons for the people’s verdict for change. The NDA government’s defeat is the direct result of the ongoing economic reforms which it pursued with undue zeal without caring for the political consequences on the ground.

The economic reform process under the WTO regime is a double-edged sword. Globalisation, liberalisation, disinvestment and downsizing of the government are its essential requirements. It reaps benefits but hurts too.

Dr Manmohan Singh’s Congress party paid a heavy price in the 1996 elections for ushering in economic reforms. And so has the Vajpayee government now for having kept pace with second generation reforms. Though the country is economically more vibrant, many sections of people are either untouched or are hard hit by the new economic order.

In India, about 70 per cent of people subsist on rural economy, mainly agriculture. Reforms have brought minimal change in their living standards. Similarly, small-scale, cottage industry and labour sectors have suffered a lot from liberalisation. The ever-increasing number of educated unemployed youth are a disillusioned lot.

Pensioners and the salaried class are sour and apprehensive about job security and diminishing returns on their savings. So, all these sections cared two hoots for the high-pitched India Shining and Feel-Good campaigns of the BJP-led NDA government.

The corporatised BJP leadership should understand that sound economic sense does not necessarily bring good political returns and selling dreams alone is bad politics.





H.K. Dua has rightly examined the NDA government’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections in his front-page editorial “The big change”. But I don’t endorse what Maj-Gen Himmat Singh Gill (retd) had written in his letter under the caption “A mandate for Nehruvian growth model” (May 14). The comparison of Sikhs with Muslims vis-a-vis the BJP-RSS combine is wrong. He should have remembered that the 1984 Sikh riots and the Gujarat riots have nothing in common.

Maj-Gen Gill chooses to remember some Nehruvian growth that the Congress party did not even vaguely talk of during its election campign. The election results clearly show that the Congress victory is not the outcome of any national wave. More than the Congress victory, it was the NDA government’s debacle at the national level that proves the adage that Indian democracy is alive and kicking.



I don't think that the results of the Lok Sabha elections truly reflect the voice of the nation. First, in a nation where more than 50 per cent of the voters do not cast their votes, any winner in the “so-called” election has no moral right to be called a representative of his people.

Further, most voters do not understand the meaning of democracy or elections. It is these people who decide the fate of the leaders. It is an open secret as to how they are won over by the leaders. The silent majority has, over the years, shown its apathy by boycotting elections. Consequently, it would be wrong to call it the verdict of the people; it is a verdict of those who actually voted.

In this entire debate, we should not forget the NDA government’s contributions. The stability and reforms given by the Vajpayee-led government should not be dismissed as a flash in the pan. The India Shining and Feel-Good campaign was a big gamble which ultimately proved to be counter-productive for the government. I agree with Mr H.K. Dua that these slogans were a gift of the ad people who specialise in selling dreams to anyone who has capacity to buy them, but they couldn't find any buyers among the poor electorate.

The nation is standing at the crossroads, where the democratic fabric is under pressure to deliver. All our efforts should be directed towards preserving the rubric of democracy. No stone should be left unturned to assimilate the silent majority into the mainstream and to re-establish their faith in elections.

A number of steps could be taken to further this objective. These are, breaking the criminal-politician nexus, reforms in the administration, judiciary, agriculture, economy and employee-friendly policies. Only good governance can realise the dream of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee when every Indian would feel good.

RAJIV BHALLA, Chandigarh


The BJP relied too much on Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee's image to win the Lok Sabha elections. This proved to be its wrong doing. No doubt, Mr Vajpayee has proved to be one of the greatest Prime Ministers of this country. But his election meetings gave an impression that he would not be able to give his best in the coming years. This might have been one of the reasons why people voted the NDA out.



To me, Mrs Sonia Gandhi is quite open-minded like Rajiv but will her allies allow her to implement Manmohanomics? It would be quite in order for the leaders under the new dispensation to debate their policies and programmes well. Mrs Sonia Gandhi should also keep sycophants and time servers at bay.

Wg-Cdr T.L. BHARDWAJ (retd), Chandigarh

Message from Andhra

The pendulum of political power in Andhra Pradesh has swung to the other extreme, falsifying all opinion and exit polls on the subject. The Telugu Desam party led by Mr N. Chandrababu Naidu — considered invincible until the other day — suffered a humiliating rout at the hustings probably because of the bad company — the BJP — the party had opted to keep.

The most encouraging part of the story is that the electorate can no longer be taken for granted or befooled just by slogans howsoever attractive. They want solid and positive results vis-a-vis their day-to-day problems in the field. Let the political gods ruling the roost elsewhere in the country beware.

TARA CHAND, Ambota (Una)


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