Priority of Politics and Policy Planning

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Election in India: implication for Bangladesh

The inconceivable cut and dried victory of Congress, projected neither by BJP nor by Congress itself, in topical Indian parliamentary election has paved the way for Manmohon Singh, already named to become Prime Minister for another term, to turn into the first PM after Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961 through a successive election. It is, from any point of view, the Congress' greatest show down within more than a half century. The party itself won 203 seats; an amount they scored in 1984 and 1991.In the ultimate reckon, the Congress led UPA triumphed 260 chairs, just humorously squat of the magical figure of 272 through which the parliament is now ready to pledge national interest under steady and balanced circumstances. From the beginning of the 90s of the immediate past century the general fashion for Indian national parliament election was an undefined victory for either BJP or Congress with a torn out shabby alliance with multicolored small parties. The nature of the alliance was never based on any ideology, well established definition, aim or objective rather to grasp power for the leading party and to exercise individual power, hunt ministry, guarantee regional interest and so on with big bargaining power for the small parties of the alliance. Conquering such an elongated stalemate circumstances the recent great-grand-gorgeous gaining of power by Congress has, obviously, a great impact on both of her internal and external affairs. In such a situation how Bangladesh can manage her relations with India, the big and brutal neighbor, and draw interest in a most secure way is a matter to be discussed.

Before going to expose the probable curve line of Bangla-India relations under Awami-Congress regimes, the landslide winner in parliamentary election almost at same time in their own countries, we have to make a glance at the nature on Indian foreign policy formulating process and the role of Congress in this particular issue. Since the independence of India the formulation of foreign policy affairs got the priority choice of the prime minister office. From Jawahar Lal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Sastri to Indira Gandhi and even Raziv Gandhi the prime minister was the pioneer to detect foreign policy of India. After institutionalization of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the intelligent unit of India introduced to formulate and craft occurrences in neighboring countries by Indira Gandhi, the relations of India vis-à-vis regional states from South Asia became a dual concern of Prime Minister Office and green signal of RAW. In those days Foreign Ministry or Ministry of External Affairs was nothing but an instrument to implement policy not to generate policy. But day by day the scenario has changed drastically and now a days, in India, foreign policy is not a matter of either one person’s choice or one party’s vision but a well planned outcomes of different organs of government with a practical view of national interest. As a result Indian foreign policy, like most other countries, becomes a true Indian policy not a Congress foreign policy or BJP foreign policy and following this process bureaucrats become the real engineers.

Observing this shifting set-up in policy formulating process of India one may argue there may be no considering point for Dhaka whoever there is in power in Delhi. But the nature of the victory of Congress has given India a stable and firm government to maintain a hard core relations with nations which in near past was a day dream. How much it befalls intricate to take a foreign policy decision when an alliance led government is on rule in India, you will become clear if you recall the situation which was evolved regarding nuclear deals with the USA. In that particular event the then UPA government led by Congress with a great support from Communist block of West Bengal got a crack and even the government could manage a shabby escape from wiping up as Communist bloc did not support the nuclear deal with the USA and withdrew their support from the government. Thus the government stood in front of a question whether it should continue or halt in the midst of tenure. The political drama got its highest climax when both the CPM and Congress were brought to the question of offering bribe to collect vote to their own side. Now this stable government has no probability to face such a pungent impasse state. In the mean time it will be able to concentrate its full energy to invest in policing and solving problems with neighboring countries without any hesitation.

For Bangladesh, the results have opened opportunities on a number of fronts if Congress allows and bears a positive attitude to resolve all problems with Bangladesh in a cooperative way. It will allow Bangladesh’s newly government to interact with a stable government in New Delhi led by a resurgent Congress with which the Awami League has traditional and historical affinity. As a Prime Minister Dr. Manmohon Singh is wise and positive and we can expect that in his second term he will focus more on improvement of relations with neighbors including Bangladesh. The election will bring into Indian politics a new generation of leaders led by Rahul Gandhi who can be expected to look forward to for a better South Asia. We were disappointed at the way relations have been handled since the AL came to office in January, particularly surprised that the Indian Foreign Minister visited Dhaka and had failed to meet the leader of the opposition while meeting the Army Chief. This Indian behavior strengthens the previous assumption that India is greedier to turn Indo-Bangla relations into Indo-Awami relations. We hope the new government will be more sensitive towards this issue. From Bangladesh side it should be given concern that no internal political issue get involved in building tactful relations with India.

The new governments in India and Bangladesh are expected to run parallel over the next five years. These are momentous times when opportunities are knocking at door, who knows how much India will attest to materialize this occasion neglecting one side beneficial but another side irritating activities. In Bangladesh, there is long cherished mindset for better relations with India based on mutuality, equality and solidarity. A strong government under Manmohon Singh can ensure a similar change in the Indian mindset. Bangladesh, in the mean time, should also make diplomatic efforts to reach Sonia Gandhi, the real playmaker in Indian political stage, for her support in building Bangladesh-India relations towards a win-win condition where competition, coercion and compulsion should be replaced by cooperation, concession and compromise. Bangladesh has another task to contact Rahul, the new icon in Indian political theatre, and manage him to change traditional behavior of one party gaining policy from India towards Bangladesh. As it is debut match for Rahul in Indian election he has already become able to manage the young generation towards a new look about everything. Bangladeshi young and energetic professionals have a difficult but not impossible task to draw his attention about new and changed Bangladesh.

The Indian elections have many lessons for us, for internal implication, if we are willing to take. The grace with which LK Advani accepted defeat is a lesson that, if taken by our leading politicians, could really open a world of opportunity for us. His offer to resign to take responsibility for his front and party's defeat is a democratic tradition that we could emulate in Bangladesh. On his part, Manmohon Singh sought Advani's support and constructive criticism to run the new government, saying: “we must open a new chapter in the working relations between the government and the principal opposition.” Sonia Gandhi's leadership style where she has put the nation before self is one our political leaders could follow. Moreover the down word journey of leftist parties especially in West Bengle and Kerala, the leftist heaven house for long period of time, gives us a clear cut idea about invalidity of left side politics in this new world. Their old fashioned common buzzword of class struggle, bourgeois governments etc are not only mysterious to new generation but also invalid to them.

The most important and great observing thing for political parties of Bangladesh, as both Awami league and BNP need to select new leaders in near future, from Indian election is the process of emerging new leaders in politics. The surfacing out of Rahul Gandhi in Congress is a role model about how to become a leader maintaining affinity of senior leaders and conquering people’s heart. The Rahul race in Indian politics has neither released mistrust in senior leaders nor excavated path for flattering people. But we, here in Bangladesh, have seen another scenario in near past because of some reasonable options. Who knows how much we will be able to take lesson from the burning example set by Rahul, Sonya and Obviously Monmohan Singh. Who knows how much we will take time to maintain such a healthy democratic process.


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