Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Indian democracy: Coming of age?

The much-anticipated results of assembly elections in the five north Indian states, described as the semi-final before next year's final - the General Election, portents something rare in India; governments (that did a reasonable job) being voted back to power.

Anti-incumbency is by far the biggest reason, opposition walks into government and sometimes it is very cruel when performing governments are voted out that way. For example, in Kerala, elections have become a ritual where each of the two fronts are gifted 5-year terms, alternatively, for now close to 60 years (I believe, Mr. Achutha Menon was the only Chief Minister who was ever voted back and that was more than 25 years back!). This, I would argue, would rob a government of any real motivation to perform because the result at the time of the next election is a fore-gone conclusion.

In Madya Pradesh, Delhi and Chattisgarh, Chief Ministers are being voted back this time around and the consensus seems to be that they deserved it. Mr. Chauhan has been widely accepted to be doing good job, in spite of being an administrative novice of sorts; Ms. Shiela, in Delhi, is one of most gracious of current-day Indian politicians and has been credited with serious and honest attempts in improving the lot of the people in Delhi. Mr. Raman's clean image is helping him a lot in Chattisgarh and he too gets a chance to keep his job. While these chief-ministers definitely have still a lot left to do and improve, it is definitely a pat on their back from the electorate for the good work they have done or the impression they have been able to create. And Sheila Dixit is entering into her third 5-year term, no mean feat for a democratically elected Chief Minister in India. These three guys need to be congratulated for their electoral performance.

I hope this is an harbinger of things to come. Good governance is something India seriously lacks today and I hope other politicians take cue from this. India deserves as much.

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