An experienced observer’s take on Indian polity
Reviewed by Harihar Swarup

Pitfalls of Indian Democracy: Bapu to Anna
by Hari Jaisingh
S. Chand Publishing. Pages 430. Rs 600

Whether we like it or not, Narendra Modi is unstoppable because of his futuristic agenda and good governance and all inclusive faster growth and his ability to take quick decisions", says Hari Jaisingh, former Editor of The Tribune, in Pitfalls of Indian Democracy: Bapu to Anna. Jaisingh says "Modi is a world-class leader but he remains grounded because of the dark shadow of the 2002 Gujarat riots." "I do not know when this shadow will vanish since his rise at the national level does not suit ‘secular-cum-socialist’ Congressmen and Leftist force as well as vested interests within the BJP itself", says Jaisingh in his well-researched work. He also assesses the personalities of Prime Minister Dr Mohan Singh, L K Advani and Rahul Gandhi. He has praised as well as criticised Dr Singh. "The biggest disappointment in recent years has been the way Dr Singh has conducted himself as the Prime Minister. At one stage, he had three advantages: One, as a reform-oriented economist; two, a modest and honest gentleman; three, a knowledgeable administrator who was not seen as the usual run-of-the-mill politician but a pragmatic person with the ability to run a Congress-led coalition government". He could not use the advantage of "stability" in a coalition government for faster growth of economy. Rather the UPA stability was seen being used for corrupt power-wielders. He says "Advani has shown superb qualities of heart and mind. A good organiser, he has not been able to get to the top. Could it be a bad luck or clumsy handling of men, matters and issues within the BJP and beyond? History will probably judge him as a clean and honest person who could not prove himself to be the 'iron man', a la Sardar Patel." On Rahul Gandhi, he says: "I am not sure if youthful heir-apparent Rahul Gandhi would prove to be a good leader." The 400-page volume discusses in-depth, post-Partition problems and issues that haunt the polity even today. The volume is concerned with governance and policy matters affecting the life of the nation since Independence. Few of the younger generation know that the Shiv Sena is the creation of the Congress, primarily of the Bombay Pradesh Congress Committee under S K Patil and had the support of the then Maharashtra Chief Minister, V P Naik. They, along with business and industrial tycoons of Maharashtra, used the Shiv Sena to break the hold of militant leftists trade unions over the flourishing textile industry. Besides being the Editor of The Tribune, Jaisingh, occupied senior positions in the Indian Express, National Herald and Business and Political Observer. His experience is on display in the book.