Thursday, October 2, 2014
8

Suena la campana para el Partido del Congreso de la India

NUEVA YORK – La política en los dos gigantes de Asia, India y China, repentinamente se ha vuelto muy incierta. China sigue aplicando una modalidad autoritaria, por supuesto. Pero las atroces violaciones a los derechos humanos y la supresión del disenso hacen surgir el espectro de crecientes fracturas internas, particularmente tras las purgas a nivel del alto liderazgo.

Por el contrario, India, con su democracia liberal firmemente arraigada, huele a rosas para algunos. Pero muchos creen que India también enfrenta perspectivas políticas inciertas.

En particular, hoy existe un consenso generalizado en India de que uno de los dos principales partidos políticos del país, el Congreso Nacional Indio, esencialmente dirigido por Sonia Gandhi y su hijo, Rahul Gandhi, ya cumplió su ciclo y se sumergirá en el olvido. Según The Economist, "El Partido del Congreso está desanimado" y "corre el riesgo de una decadencia a largo plazo".

Pero el Congreso ya estaba desahuciado de antes: el artículo de The Economist fue publicado en enero de 2003. De hecho, la predicción uniforme antes de las elecciones de 2004 era que, después de haber perdido tres elecciones consecutivas, el Congreso iba camino a su cuarta derrota y una eventual disolución. Sin embargo, se adjudicó una victoria en esa elección, y luego ganó una segunda elección parlamentaria en 2009.

La política, por supuesto, está llena de cambios de suerte. Pero, a diferencia de 2004, es poco probable que el Congreso, por varios motivos, pueda sobrevivir al predicamento sombrío que enfrenta hoy.

Para empezar, en 2004, el Congreso se enfrentaba a un gobierno en funciones que había ejercido el poder durante seis años. Esta vez, el Congreso ha conformado el gobierno en funciones durante dos mandatos seguidos, y su mandato recientemente se vio salpicado por escándalos que lo hacen parecer inútil, corrupto y sin timón. Para colmo de males, India está experimentando una pronunciada desaceleración económica, lo que mina aún más las perspectivas del Congreso en las elecciones que se deben llevar a cabo no más allá de junio de 2014.

En segundo lugar, y más importante, las actitudes de los votantes han cambiado significativamente en los últimos diez años. Un crecimiento económico anual promedio de 8,5% en el período de ocho años comprendido entre 2003 y 2011 ha derivado en una revolución de las posibilidades percibidas. Como demostraron los economistas Poonam Gupta y Arvind Panagariya, los votantes en la mayoría de los estados indios hoy respaldan a líderes y partidos que ofrecen buenos resultados económicos, y rechazan a los que no. Esto marca un cambio importante con respecto a las actitudes fatalistas del pasado, que generalmente favorecían a los gobernantes de turno, que se beneficiaban de la idea que tenían los votantes de que no existía ninguna alternativa real para los acuerdos existentes.

Este comportamiento electoral se ha visto reforzado por ejemplos recientes de fracaso y éxito político. Líderes descaradamente corruptos como Kumari Mayawati de Uttar Pradesh y Digambar Kamat de Goa fueron expulsados después de un mandato. Mientras tanto, modelos de rol positivos como Nitish Kumar de Bihar, Narendra Modi de Gujarat y Navin Patnaik de Orissa regresaron al poder como ministros jefe al menos una vez; todos ofrecieron resultados remarcables a la vez que mantuvieron una trayectoria intachable de integridad personal. El Congreso inevitablemente estará sometido a una intensa presión para ofrecer buenos resultados, ya que el electorado ahora sabe que un mejor desempeño no está fuera de su alcance.

El asesinato del primer ministro Rajiv Gandhi hace más de veinte años creó una ola de compasión por su viuda, Sonia, que finalmente se tradujo en una victoria del Congreso en 2004. Hoy, es poco probable que una tragedia de esa índole pueda favorecer al Congreso. Se rumorea que Sonia Gandhi tiene cáncer, pero en lugar de capitalizar esta situación, ella mantuvo los detalles puertas adentro del complejo de la familia Gandhi en Nueva Delhi.

Sin embargo, el problema real es que la política de marca registrada está cada vez más desvalorizada, como en Estados Unidos. Al igual que las marcas Kennedy y Bush, el rótulo Nehru-Gandhi ha perdido su brillo en India.

En parte, eso se debe a una demografía que cambia rápidamente. Los individuos que nacieron después de 1975 hoy representan una proporción muy grande del electorado. Para esos votantes, Jawaharlal Nehru e Indira Gandhi son meras figuras históricas, y una memoria distante incluso para muchos votantes nacidos antes de 1975. No sorprende que Rahul Gandhi no pudiera llevar al Congreso a la victoria en una elección reciente en un distrito electoral que históricamente había sido un bastión de respaldo para su familia.

De hecho, el condominio Nehru-Gandhi que ha dominado la política india se encargó de minar las perspectivas de supervivencia del partido al dificultar enormemente la tarea de reclutar y formar nuevos líderes. Es de público conocimiento que, durante los últimos ochos años, Sonia Gandhi ejerció un control prácticamente total del partido. Como resultado, no surgió ningún rival para Rahul Gandhi.

Gracias a que Sonia Gandhi no está bien de salud, Rahul no pudo conectarse con el electorado ni siquiera en su distrito electoral históricamente "seguro" y la marca Nehru-Gandhi ha perdido su atractivo, las perspectivas para el Congreso en 2014 son sombrías. Sólo el resultado dirá si puede sobrevivir.

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  1. CommentedManish Kumar

    The Columbia economists have rightly argued that the prospects of the GOP of India, the Congress Party, looks bleak in the upcoming parliamentary elections to be held in 2014. Given their reputation as first rate commentators on Indian political economy it is hard to disagree with their analysis.

    India’s economic reforms, kick started in 1991, unleashed the long suppressed entrepreneurial spirit and subsequent reforms under the Vajpayee administration put the economy on a higher growth trajectory. The high growth rates achieved fuelled a revolution of rising expectations. The electorate has come to expect more from its political class.

    According to Census 2011, half the country is less than 25 years old, and about 65 per cent is under 35. India’s median age is 25. That is why it has become almost a cliché to talk about India’s demographic dividend. The rapidly changing demographics have been showing its impact on politics and economics.

    The voting behavior witnessed in recent state elections further reinforce the thesis put forward by the pro-growth economists, professors Bhagwati and Panagariya, that like in the advanced democracies of the west, the electorate has been increasingly rewarding those with a positive economic performance and hasn’t hesitated in punishing the non-performers.

    An editorial, published in one of India’s most respected newspapers, The Indian Express, noted that ‘across classes people are now ambitious and value (economic) prospects over the politics of feelgood and subsidies.’ It further warned the ruling alliance, the UPA (Of which the Congress party is the major player), ‘(to) concentrate on vote getters of modern polity – wealth and employment…economic reforms (was) the only silver bullet the UPA can rely on if it wants to bag another term.’

    The country suffers from massive deficits in critical areas like infrastructure, governance and therefore there is an urgent need to expedite the long stalled reforms to keep the Indian growth story buoyant. It must add significantly to its capital stock – health, education, roads, airports, factories – to catch up with more developed economies.

    After a surprise UPA victory in 2004, expectations were running high that the highly accomplished economist Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, who in his previous avatar as Finance Minister in 1991 had helped craft the economic policies that India would go on to implement, would accelerate the reforms bandwagon, speeding at high speed at that time thanks to the pro-market policies of the NDA.

    Alas, to the disillusionment of many of the cheerleaders of reforms, the UPA did a shocking U-turn and went on to implement one of India’s most fiscally notorious job guarantee scheme, the NREGA. It failed to carry out any reforms in the last eight years severely denting investor sentiments and growth prospects.

    It wrongly believed that the statist ‘inclusive policies’ and pro-poor sloganeering alone were sufficient to win dividends at the ballot box. It practiced the much derided old tools of politics of quota and caste arithmetic to win elections forgetting that India had changed and the key to winning the popular sentiment was to practice the new mantras of ‘politics of aspiration’ and good governance.

    Consequently the Congress party has fared badly in most of the elections fought in recent past. The drubbing it received in the UP state assembly elections has dealt a heavy blow to the party with low expectations of victory at the upcoming assembly elections of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh further hurting its prospects in 2014. The going has already got tough for the Congress party.

    The party must understand that in a fast globalizing age dominated by the free flow of ideas and technology (in retrospect how hard it is to believe that social media can instigate and intensify such mass movements as an Arab spring) political dynasties and brand names are fast losing their charm and attractiveness.

    The move towards greater democratization, quicker upward socio-economic mobility owing to faster growth and increasing economic interdependence among nations has brought to the fore a burgeoning middle class with vastly different political sensibilities. With growth picking up in erstwhile stagnant regions the contagion is spreading fast thus ever bringing within its fold more people appreciating political and economic freedom.

    The concentration of power in the hands of Nehru-Gandhi family with their remote control style of functioning blessing the sycophants and hurting the rare challengers, absence of merit based system of nurturing young leaders, failure to facilitate the growth of regional leaders and their true empowerment are some of the challenges facing the Congress party. These need to change before it’s too late.

    India is not willing to trade the ideals of economic freedom and free markets for the false bait of economic inclusiveness that the Congress has been promising without delivering.

    Indians are yearning for better economic opportunities that only economic reforms can bring. They are the best antidote to India’s economic woes. The writing on the wall is clear for the Congress party – reform or perish in 2014!











  2. CommentedPUNDALIK Kamath

    The Bell Tolls for India’s Congress Party ;

    What can any expect about the fate of the Congress Party? This party has such a wonderful history of 137 years with a string of great patriotic men and women of such high moral strength and public dedication. Of course million others who were less known people in the bygone decades should not be forgotten either.

    But what happened during the captaincy of this prime minister? All you see is this ghastly corruption which is corroding the entire society with the moral rot. The prime minister has turned out to be so impotent not saying one word about corruption among his own men in the cabinet.
    Take a hard look at the man1 he is old, tired, weak, slow in speech and thinking.

    Time for him to go and let Indians think of the 'tomorrow" tomorrow.

  3. Commentedchinmay krovvidi

    There is little doubt that Congress party is in decline.It has thoroughly mismanaged the country the result of which is being now seen in the slow down of economy.The fact of the matter is that even under congress rule what ever little was achieved was due to Prime Ministers not belonging to the Nehru-Gandhi family like Narasimha Rao and ManMohan Singh.But to say that is going to become defunct may not be correct as it still commands a committed vote-bank.Indira converted a genuinely democratic party into her pocket purse which spanned many bad trends like dynastic politics, bureaucratic corruption etc.If congress is being rejected it should be welcomed.Hope some one decisive like NARENDRA MODI becomes PM in 2014 to set things right.But for that to happen electorate should decisively vote for the other national party BJP and not some kichidi alliance of Third Front

  4. CommentedCarolin Maney

    While I can see why the INC is at a disadvantage for the 2014 elections, I am not convinced that the 2014 elections will spell the death of Congress. Besides I'm not sure if the BJP can necessarily solve the problems that the nation is facing today. It would be a shame if any party came into power just on the basis of dissatisfaction with the incumbent government (though I'm aware that happens quite often). I would not mind the INC or the BJP coming into power as long as they have truly reevaluated their leadership and what they can offer to solve regional and national problems facing India.

  5. Commentedrajiv anand

    God help us if congress comes back in 2014, a possibility given the options. A victory in 2014 will be vindication for the Gandhi lady that a welfare scheme led politics is the right way, so what if it is bankrupting the economy,so what if it is killing productivity in the economy. This is a situation that will kill the Indian growth story at least into the medium term.

  6. CommentedJitendra Desai

    It is no longer a party.It is a cabal.And hence better that it disappears.Its disintegration was started by late Mrs Indira Gandhi and her kitchen cabinet in late sixties.Since then Congress has mutated in to so many outfits [ Eg CFD,TMC,NCP,Bengal Congress...] It will be Mrs Sonia Gandhi who could be overseeing its ultimate demise.It was the bankruptcy of Congress , that it had to rely on a widow of foreign origin with no political background to lead a party ,that was once led by Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar and Nehru.It is a fall which will be good for the country.Amen.

  7. CommentedAlok Shukla

    It would be very easy to comment on the basis of the facts provided however it seems the Indian Voters are completely confused which is leading to the formation of Khichdi Govt. at the Center. This is the underlying reason for complete inaction at the policy level. The voter needs to deliver a clear verdict and needs to have clear understanding of what is good at state level may not be good at federal level. Hence voter needs to deliver a clear mandate whether it is Congress or BJP or some other party.

  8. CommentedKevin Lim

    All well and good, but who will fill the void. Is there a moderate, economically liberal party in the wings we havent heard of ready to fill the vacuum? Or is it more likely that the BJP will exploit Congress's weaknesses (once it overcomes its own infighting) in the next election. I certainly hope not - it speaks poorly of India if one of the architects of the Uttar Pradesh race riots becomes the next PM

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