A positive legacy

A positive legacy

Flashback Y2K9

A positive legacy

The nation’s morale was at  a low as the nation welcomed the year 2009 twelve months ago. The live images of the Mumbai terror attacks were nightmarish and in a country that had been used to a terror-attack-a-month cycle by then, the cynicism about the abilities of our security and intelligence establishment to take preventive action against terror was near-total.

The dark shadows of the global economic recession of 2008 had cast its shadow on the New Year. A globalised Indian economy was no exception as panic stricken corporates were taking recourse to a freeze on recruitment, pay cuts and retrenchments to shield themselves from recession-hit economies in the developed world.

And, with the country also just about to hold the mandatory parliamentary elections in the midst of worsening security and economic scenario, there were also concerns about political uncertainties in the New Year. The heightened worries on the security front, job losses and rising prices were hardly the backdrop for any ruling party/coalition to face an election.

If the ruling UPA was found wanting on many of these challenges facing the nation, the opposition hardly inspired any confidence, ill-prepared as it was to project itself as a convincing alternative. The political class too thus was unconvincing to instill any public confidence.

Yet, as the nation steps into another New Year – 2010 – the year 2009 would be remembered. It leaves behind a positive legacy. No new Mumbai-like terror attack was inflicted upon the country during the year, the economy has regained the growth momentum it lost in 2008 and the general elections enhanced the coalition polity’s stability at the national level.

Congress fortunes

Politically, the ruling Congress has never had it so good since it embraced the coalition route to revive its fortunes some years ago. It recorded a string of victories during the year. Besides strengthening its position as the coalition leader at the national level, the party retained power in the key state of Maharashtra, despite question marks over its popularity in the wake of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. Manmohan Singh became the first Prime Minister in over three decades to retain power after a full-five year term in office.
But the year marked the end of seasoned BJP leader L K Advani’s career and with that also the end of Vajpayee-Advani era in the party. It has been a depressing year for the BJP. The party had entertained hopes of regaining some ground it had lost five years ago but ended up losing further ground. This prompted the election of a relatively less known party leader from Maharashtra, Nitin Gadkari, as its new president. The year has also been harsh on Congress’ erstwhile allies – the Left parties, in particular.

After five years of political glory at the national level, the Left parties saw their fortunes dwindle sharply during the year. They not only lost their clout in Delhi but face the prospects of being eased out of power in their backyard state of West Bengal which they have ruled uninterruptedly since 1977.

Thus, 2009 has brought back a sense of hope erasing the despondency of 2008 in our national life. But with it has also come many challenges for the New Year. The internal security scenario on the naxalite/Maoist front is worrisome as never before. The Maoists have questioned the authority of the state power in state after state – West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh during 2009. The Central and state governments have been found wanting in addressing this challenge.     

Statehood row

There has been another problem that has surfaced in wake of the sudden death of Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy. The idea of a linguistic state, which was accepted as the principle while reorganising the States in the Indian Union in 1956, is under challenge.

Ironically, the challenge has come in Andhra Pradesh, the first state to have been formed on linguistic basis, in an unprecedented way. It has triggered violence and political chaos in the state, the domino effect of which is being felt in many other states with a clamour for more states.

The national security concerns have also arisen on other counts. India had its biggest worry in decades reappearing again. Arunachal Pradesh, beginning from January through almost till the end of the year made news as the Chinese raked up the old issue of the Indian north-eastern state being a disputed territory. In its wake the Sino-Indian diplomatic front has been in a state of turmoil. This has added to the continuing national security concerns on the Pakistani front, though India saw an end to the bloody era in ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka that has direct security implications for the country.

Pak tension

Though China constantly raked up different issues, Pakistan was not far behind.
In the context of 26/11, India continued to put pressure on Islamabad on the terror front. The continuing tension ensured that even a warm handshake in Sharm-el-Sheikh would not result in improved relations between the uneasy neighbours. 

Telangana imbroglio

The quest for smaller states  continues and there seems to be no end to the Telangana imbroglio. Home Minister P Chidambaram’s recent statement putting the Telangana statehood issue on the backburner for lack of consensus has once again resulted in a spate of resignations by legislators cutting across party lines.

Since Chidambaram’s statement did not indicate any time frame to complete the exercise, it has lead to angry reactions from the TRS and other sympathisers of Telangana.
The on-going political game on the issue of bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh has thrown the state into turmoil with development taking a backseat.