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At an Express Adda in Delhi, moderated by Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief of The Express Group, Adil Zainulbhai, Chairman of McKinsey India, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President of Centre for Policy Research and Contributing Editor of The Indian Express, and dancer-activist Mallika Sarabhai ó ran the scanner on the UPA, the civil society and the nature of Indian democracy.
On Election 2014
Mallika Sarabhai: Narendra Modiís rise worries me. The lies being spread worry me. The corruption of the system of all the parties worries me. The public has given a lot of surprising results before and Iím wondering what surprises theyíre going to give at the state and the national elections.
Pratap Bhanu Mehta: How much you are worried depends on how much faith you have in Indian democracy, and Indian democracy has always had a way of surprising us. I often share the worry that this election could have been about Indiaís progressive moment, which is saying thereís an old regime, old style of governance and this old idiom of politics that needs to be done away with, and thereís some political party that would grasp the new India that is emerging. I have much more faith in whatís happening on the ground. I donít think either of the major political parties understands or sees the new dynamics yet.
Adil Zainulbhai: As some authors in the book (Reimagining India) talk from a political standpoint, Iíll give you two vignettes. One is we should be grateful that there are places where we can, even during election season, express our views openly. The second thing is that, over 15-20 years, which is the development level one has to look at to make fundamental changes, all sorts of governments will come into play. Itís not going to be one specific party or rule for that long. Our development and rule in the country has to be such that, in spite of the governments that come in play, you can sit back and say, ĎItís inevitableí.
On Rahul vs Modi
Sarabhai: Modi is a brilliant speaker. He creates his own reality as weíve been seeing. He also creates his own history. He is speaking to the very, very frustrated, young and middle-age person, mostly urban. Iíve heard Rahul Gandhi speak very little, and never on serious policy issues, not that Iíve heard Modi speak of these, either. Modi speaks of himself.
Mehta: What is astonishing is that both Rahul Gandhi