Apropos of the column India's choice (FE, March 18), the Congress, like a curate's egg, has always been good in parts. The BJP has not laid one for years now. Thus, to the degree the Congress has any which way remained predictable, the BJP to a similar extent is not. The medley of regional outfits have been bringing into the electoral kitty near-similar numbers each time, though with differing individual contributions. Here again their efficacy when working in combination as a Front has been lacklustre. The only addition to the electoral brew this time is the fledgling AAP with no antecedents to go by. But fervour more than content makes the AAP a catalyst that, while remaining unaffected itself, is capable of inducing hitherto unknown side reactions in electoral chemistry. NOTA is no solace for a nation that has not seen any party rising above the rut or break newer grounds. What the AAP might do is to scale down the seats of an upbeat BJP and to an extent help boost the sagging fortunes of the Congress. With no change in other ingredients, 2014 would, in all probability, end up in the BJP and the Congress exchanging personal tallies. We stand to get another avatar of coalition politics wherein accountability at the Centre would get dispersed and diluted even as regional satraps leverage their electoral count to squeeze out undue allocations for sustaining their captive vote banks. We might well land up with a Prime Minister looking authoritative, but if past experience is any guide, even the best material is blunted soon enough in an abrading coalition.
Bihar is catching up
Industries on ground and resources under the earth's crust can make any state prosperous but the protection of wealth, dignity and life of the people is equally important in gauging the progress of a state. Bihar, for a long time, was completely off the track. It has been reported that even political leaders have sometimes been engaged in extortionist methods and this was one of the reasons the government machinery became sluggish. The bureaucrats and politicians together had created a terror in Bihar where resources were squandered and public services also lost objective. The people remained illiterate, as teachers were busy in private tuitions; the people remained unhealthy as doctors and medical specialists were busy in their private clinics; the people remained unsafe as the police danced to the tune of stubborn political leaders. But then things gradually started changing. The Nitish Kumar government properly utilised central government funds, public sites, public infrastructure, labour and agriculture all of which created growth opportunities. Extortion and crime rates minimised. This goes on to prove that unless the political and developmental agendas are convergent in any state, progress on all fronts will never be coherent and strong.