The India, envisaged by our founding fathers and leaders of yesteryears, is in stark contrast with how the nation is in the present times.
The National Pledge, which is commonly recited by Indians during the Independence Day, Republic Day and at public events, was composed by Pydimarri Venkata Subba Rao, a little known Telanganite born in Anneparti, Nalgonda district. While serving as the District Treasury Officer of Vishakhapatnam in 1962 in the then Andhra Pradesh, he composed it and later presented to Tenneti Viswanadham, a former Minister and Member of Parliament, who forwarded it to the then Education Minister PVG Raju.
The pledge is as follows: ‘India is my country. All Indians are my brothers and sisters. I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage. I shall always strive to be worthy of it. I shall give my parents, teachers and all elders respect and treat everyone with courtesy. To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion. In their well-being and prosperity alone, lies my happiness.’
Missing National Agenda
The question is, while remembering the struggle for independence, to what extent the words in the pledge, or to that matter the plans envisioned during the freedom moment are relevant today? Is there a brotherhood amongst us? Are we still proud of our rich and varied heritage? Are we worthy of our country? Do we have a good national agenda to take the people forward? Are we in a position to compete globally?
What happened in the recent general elections? The NDA-led by the BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi, the UPA-led by the Congress under the leadership of Sonia-Rahul-Priyanka, regional parties across the country as well as the Left parties competed with each other with all their might. It was a fight between national extremism, secularism, hereditary politics and regionalism.
A former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh strived hard for an alternative to the BJP at the Centre while Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao advocated a non-BJP and non-Congress government. Despite all this, what happened? The voter chose Modism and national extremism, resulting in a landslide victory for the BJP-led NDA.
In the North, West, East and Central India, the BJP led by Modi-Shah emerged victorious. In Uttar Pradesh, everybody anticipated a victory for the BSP-SP alliance, which did not happen. In States like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh where the BJP lost in the recent Assembly elections, it registered a grand victory. In Gujarat, where the BJP just scraped through in the Assembly elections, it swept. Same was the case with Maharashtra and Bihar. In West Bengal, once a strong fort of Marxists, the BJP beat Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress in a considerable number of seats.
In the South too, though the BJP’s performance was not as impressive as in the rest of India, nevertheless, it was pretty good. In Karnataka, it brushed aside the ruling JDS-Congress combine. Though the BJP drew a blank in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and AP, surprisingly it won four seats in Telangana.
How do we read the gains made by the BJP in Telangana? It’s not even four months since the TRS rode to a grand victory in the Assembly elections. The BJP, which lost deposits in over 100 Assembly segments then, not only retained Secunderabad but also won northern Telangana’s Karimnagar and Nizamabad as well as Adilabad, the ST-seat bordering Maharashtra.
What could be the basis on which a particular party wins and loses has become an element beyond imagination. There is no explanation why Vinod Kumar, who was an MP earlier and a sitting MP, lost Karimnagar. Ditto with Nizamabad sitting MP K Kavitha. In the Adilabad constituency, voters preferred the BJP despite the defeat of the BJP candidate in the bordering Chandrapur.
If this is credited to Modi’s magic, then how did the Congress win in three constituencies? Was there a limited understanding between the BJP and the Congress in these seven constituencies? If the defeat of the TRS candidate was attributed to NOTA in Malkajgiri, in Bhuvanagiri, it could have been due to the Truck symbol.
There is absolutely no connection between the defeat of TRS in the seven seats and the huge welfare and development schemes implemented in the State during the first 51 months of the TRS government. Was there any other factor other than welfare and development that influenced the voter in preferring the BJP over the TRS? A deep analysis shows that it was a fight between the secular-federal polity and national extreme communal approach. Where would this lead in future is a big question now.
The country undoubtedly needs a new direction as 71 years have passed since independence. The country and its people are still struggling for basic minimum needs with a significant chunk of our people suffering from poverty. Many are also either unemployed or underemployed.
So what suits our country? Can’t we leverage the wealth and inner strength of our country and its economy? What is stopping us? It is not an insurmountable problem but if we have to develop India, it requires out-of-the-box thinking and not just following the beaten path of the past 71 years. The customary talk of ‘Best Practices’ should be dropped and let us think of ‘Next Practices’.
A growth-centric strategy aimed at reinventing and reorienting India away from the stereotyped system is needed. We have to get rid of poverty of thought and plan big instead of being incremental. In order to make this happen, the combination of federal, leftist and secular forces should have been the best option. But it did not happen. Should this national extremism be allowed to continue in Indian politics unabated? It is for all of us to think.
(The author is Chief Public Relations Officer to Chief Minister, Telangana)