India and Elections

During the last 18 years since 1991, one does not see any change in the policies and programmes of the Government of India. In these 18 years, there were 5 Prime Ministers. First there was Congress Government headed by Mr.Narasimha Rao, then United Front Governments headed by Mr. Deve Gowda and Mr. I.K.Gujral, then BJP lead coalition Government with Mr. Vajpayee as PM and finally Congress headed coalition government of Mr. Man Mohan Singh. Each Government said that it was different from the other, but one does not see basic changes in the policies.

The same is the case with the state governments.

The reason is that in India, the bureaucracy is well established and strong. Most of the policies are initiated and decided by the officials with Ministers only approving in most cases while rejecting in a few cases. Initiative is taken by Ministers only in a very few cases. There is thus continuity in the policies and programmes of the Government, irrespective of the party in power.

Mr. Chidambaram presented budget as Finance Minister in United Front Government and also in the Congress led coalition government. He has not changed his policies and views in between. This shows that the policies of the United Front government and Congress are more or less same. The Budgets of BJP led government were not much different from United Front and Congress Governments. So it is clear that which ever government comes to power, the policies and programmes will remain without much change. Even if BJP had been in power during 2004-2009, the course of the government would not have been much different.

However, most of the people have great interest in the elections. They see in the elections, their power to choose the party to lead the government. The active members of the winning parties celebrated the victory with fireworks while those of losing parties were gloomy. But the general public were neither excited nor gloomy, The elections come and go but the government goes on as usual without much difference, irrespective of which party forms the government. There is of course room for every individual Minister to conceive original ideas and implement the same through the bureaucracy.

Perhaps this is the same in most of the democracies.

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