Hassel of coalition

By K.N. Pandita

For the first time after his government was rattled by scams, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has broken his silence and given a peep into his mind. As scam after scam came to light, these received unusually strong media hype perhaps because of the magnitude of corruption and mismanagement elaborately revealed. Prime Minister’s continued silence had begun to raise many doubts in the mind of the people and various hypothetical theories were invented and circulated. However, notwithstanding the rage of criticism and exposures witnessed in the context of these scams, as expected Prime Minister’s person emerged unassailable. Even now, when, according to knowledgeable sources the onus of these scams has almost been established, nobody is prepared to accept the insinuation that the Prime Minister prompted or overlooked the scams. The one aspect to which he made repeated allusion were the compulsions of a coalition government. This raises a serious theoretical debate for the pundits of political science as well as active political thinkers in our country.

The debate should begin with the causes of the rise of a phenomenon of identities, ethnic, regional and sub-regional; its impact on the chemistry of national politics, personalization of power and threat to the spirit of democracy. The refrain of Prime Minister’s excuses was that he was under the compulsions of coalition culture. Having historically inherited the prospect of mass following, the Congress had little idea that it can be voted out of power when the full process of democratization gains momentum. History has proved that trying to paint the political rival with a brush of communal propensities has proved counter-productive. It hardly seems sagacious to identify a rival and claim that his ascendancy to power would mean threat to the integrity of the state. No political party can be framed and no party can survive on the agenda, hidden or open, of wrecking the solidarity of the country. This mistake of the Congress cost it dearly. Secondly, the country is above all expediency and compromises. A government run with the fear of being caught on the wrong foot at any time loses control on men and affairs. Therefore, the debate whether we should let coalition mechanism continue as an option of running the government, or not, seems of vital importance now. What are the limits of accommodating the coalition partners and how accommodation mechanism would be hammered out are also important aspects that need to be dealt with. One important lesson which the Prime Minister’s impressions convey is that a difference shall have to be made between the regional and the mainstream political parties in the formative quantum and structure of the coalition. A collating national party has not many severe constraints that usually dog regional political parties especially when the regional party is in power. If the Prime Minister feels that the regional party wants to stretch too far than what are the judicious and sensible limits beyond which he should not make any concession?. Why did not the Congress high ups realize that forcing the unwilling prime minister to accommodate a collating persons whose presence in the cabinet and with the same portfolio would cast a shadow on the propriety of the coalition rule? And precisely the same thing happened. Prime Minister’s weakness lies in not convincing the party echelons of the consequences of pandering to the blackmail of the coalition partners. After all, country and nation are greater than party and power. Of course, the nation, too, has learnt a lesson from the scams that have brought defamation to the country. The lesson is that coalition governments should be avoided as far as possible. Our progress has been arrested and our unity and integrity undermined ever since we opened the option of coalition government at the centre or the states. Look at the bitter acrimony now existing between the Congress and PDP one time coalition partners.  The mainstream parties have to double their effort to see that they win sizeable majority in future elections. Voters have to understand the real value of their vote. The nation must become mature to give unity to the country in her diversity.

2010 -2011 Annual Plan:

The State has been provided with a hefty six thousand crore rupees as its annual plan for the financial year 2010-2011. It is five hundred crore rupees more than last year’s plan allocation. In addition, the state government expects 10 per cent upgrading of the plan budget which comes to nearly 1027 crores. In the entire state exchequer will have an amount of over seven thousand crore rupees to spend for the cited year? An increase in the quantum of plan also means expanding development and bringing in new plans for completion within time frame. What is important is that all envisaged plans should be completed within the stipulated time. Generally 75 -80 per cent of the annual plan budget is expended within the financial year. The unexpended amount is a loss to the state’s developmental schemes.  There are many factors responsible for non-utilization of full amount of allocation. There are physical and administrative difficulties and then there is intractable red tape-ism. The government should constitute a committee of senior officers with the business of looking to the full utilization of plan budgets. For this year’s planning, it is important that some urgent projects are taken in hand and brought to completion. Focus has to be on rural area where the impact of development is still minimal. Education, employment and shelter need to be given priority. Moreover, needs of all regions and districts have to be specifically identified and fulfilled Frugal financial provisions made by the centre should be matched with equally honest, useful and viable plans of development? The State has to ensure that corruption and mismanagement are not allowed to devalue our rate of development. The people should see and feel that developmental works are underway. Discrimination in allocations has to be eliminated, and distribution of funds to developmental works in rural areas has to be fair and judicious. Monitoring and accountability need to be streamlined.  Now that we will have panchayats in place, their usefulness in identifying the immediate needs of rural population has to be understood and given credit.

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