Stability, less inequality top wish list for polls

April 9th, 2009 - 10:55 am ICT by IANS  

By Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) Some leading public figures and intellectuals in India are hoping the coming elections will produce a government that can provide security and stability and also be more sensitive to social inequality.

Veteran journalist and political commentator Kuldip Nayar says he is “exasperated by the way elections are being conducted”.

“Parties are highlighting trivial issues and campaigns are degenerating into personal abuses. I find no issues, no all-India party and no leaders. It’s all hotch potch - the money, criminalisation and the controversies,” said Nayar, a former Rajya Sabha member.

“The country desperately needs stability, but the whole process is about how to get seats and grab power. Real issues are not relevant.”

But he adds: “There are too many players this time. I think we are going through a churning process out of which something good will emerge.”

Mark Tully, writer and BBC’s former bureau chief in India, wants the April-May polls to throw up a government that will be stable.

“I would like to see a stable government that would concentrate on improving the administrative system and follow a policy of inclusive development. The development policy should benefit all - and not just one particular segment of the population,” said Tully, now a New Delhi resident.

The author of books like “No Full Stops in India” and “The Heart of India” said even if the elections produced a coalition government, “there is no reason why it should not last”.

Former army officer Mukul Deva, whose new book “Salim Must Die” hit the bookstores this week, hopes the present United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government will stay. “What are the other alternatives available?”

The military thriller writer feels that political parties should focus on “economy and security as the key issues. And on education, health and defence service”.

Deva has been voting regularly since he left the army in the mid-1990s. He said the new government needs to strengthen the police and “enlist forces of better calibre as the police were a frontline defence against terror”.

“One of the major tasks the politicians have on hand is to bring back all the money idling in the tax havens abroad. And those who channelled it abroad must be taken to task,” Deva said.

Said veteran journalist and novelist Tarun Tejpal: “The new constellation must be far more sensitised to inequality and injustice. The country has deep inequalities. Millions are poor in our country.

“Those representing the country should stop talking about Shining India because even 60 years after independence, our children are not being fed, not clothed and not sent to school,” Tejpal, editor-in-chief of Tehelka weekly, told IANS.

Rama Krishnan, a professor of international relations at the Jawaharlal Nehru University here, hopes the election verdict will reflect the country’s diversity.

“I want the diversity of the country to be represented in a variety of forms. And the parties must have a secular and democratic vision. The rule of law should not be questioned by any political party, and human rights should be respected even while battling terror. That is also the image India must project abroad after the polls,” Krishnan said.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at

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