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E D I T O R I A L

Itís affirmation of a functioning democracy
by H.K. Dua

By winning the elections to the 15th Lok Sabha, the Congress-led UPA has certainly pulled the nation out of the jaws of political instability that was worrying most countrymen all these months.

The people have also voted for continuity which is essential for tackling enormous domestic and external challenges facing India as also pulling up the economy caught in a slowdown.

Essentially, the vote speaks highly of the maturity of Indian voters who have certainly opted for the policies which, despite odds and vagaries of coalition politics, the UPA government led by Dr Manmohan Singh followed during the past five years.

In the process, the electorate has also outrightly rejected the negative policies followed by the Left from one end and the Hindutva brigades of the BJP from the other. Their rejection seeks to underscore the fact that the real India ó which neither the Left parties, nor the BJP has tried to understand ó believes in liberal democracy which can take care of the common manís daily bread as well as the need to push economic growth which can create more jobs as well as build an India of the 21st century.

While Congressmen can celebrate victory by beating drums outside 10 Janpath, the elections have marked curtains for the ambitions of Mr L.K. Advani who might go down as a Prime Minister-in-waiting with perhaps the longest innings who will earn ample sympathy for not realising his ambition. His party will have to do considerable heart-searching to find out where did it go wrong. The fault may not be with the leaders per se but with the very script, which forms the basis of their thinking.

A strange kind of hubris and the self-rectitude that have marked the Left policy and campaign led to an attitude that did not allow it to see how much ground had slipped from under its feet, despite the fact that one-third of the countrymen are living in poverty and the jobless are growing in numbers by the day. Despite eight decades of existence and an impressive record of historic blunders, Mr Prakash Karat and his comrades, who perhaps will stay with him because of habit, are left with no choice but to lick their wounds waiting with eternal hope for the revolution they learnt about in textbooks of little relevance to the 21st century India.

The sort of Third Front the Left sought to forge may soon fall apart, with splinter groups ó which were victim of how-green-is-my-Valley images Mr Prakash Karat ably projected for them on the screen ó may run hither and thither for cover.

Dr Manmohan Singh will next week drive to Rashtrapati Bhawan to take oath for a second term, but the gentleman as he is, he is unlikely to go beyond smiling at seeing along the way shattered ambitions of Ms Mayawati, Ms Jayalalithaa Jayaram and, of course, Mr Advani who enjoyed attacking Dr Manmohan Singh as a weak Prime Minister only to get a riposte this time not from Dr Manmohan Singh, but the electorate.

For the President, Mrs Pratibha Patil, this will be the first time she will be inviting someone to form a government. She has been during the last two days seeking advice of luminaries who know chapter and verse of the Constitution and the precedents that have flown from it. Her task has become easy after the peopleís verdict.

Essentially, the previous Presidents in the event of a hung Parliament have invited the leader of the largest party in the House, or the leader of the largest alliance to form a government.

In the present situation, she has simply to invite Dr Manmohan Singh, who is formally being again elected leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party, as also of the UPA, to administer the oath of the high office. He is the leader of the largest party in the new Lok Sabha as well as of the largest alliance.

Who said on a foreign television channel the other day that Indian democracy is a functioning anarchy? Alleged profundity apart, it was not even an original remark, which crops up too often in the West and in the conversations of Indian drawing rooms of the well heeled, who do not care to walk up to polling booth. They ought to rethink why they, like Mr Advani and Mr Karat, do not understand India, that is Bharat.

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