Calling for a stable government after the Lok Sabha elections this year, President Pranab Mukherjee Saturday said a “fractured government” could be catastrophic and “populist anarchy” cannot be a substitute for governance. “Elections do not give any person the licence to flirt with illusions. Those who seek the trust of voters must promise only what is possible. Government is not a charity shop,” the president said in his customary address to the nation on the eve of Republic Day. “Populist anarchy cannot be a substitute for governance,” he elaborated. “False promises lead to disillusionment, which gives birth to rage, and that rage has one legitimate target: those in power.”
The president did not name any individual or party but his allusion to the week’s political storm in the capital, during which Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal pompously declared “I’m an anarchist”, was not lost on anyone. “The aspirational young Indian will not forgive a betrayal of her future. Those in office must eliminate the trust deficit between them and the people. Those in politics should understand that every election comes with a warning sign: perform, or perish,” the president said in carefully chosen words in his address. The president said corruption was a cancer that erodes democracy and weakens foundations of the state. Terming 2014 as “precipice moment” in the country’s history, he said people must rediscover the sense of national purpose and patriotism.
The president’s concern for the country’s political future was evident in the sentiments expressed. “This year, we will witness the 16th general election to our Lok Sabha. A fractured government, hostage to whimsical opportunists, is always an unhappy eventuality. In 2014, it could be catastrophic. Each one of us is a voter; each one of us has a deep responsibility; we cannot let India down. It is time for introspection and action,” the president said. He said the youth can transform villages and cities to 21st century standards.
“Give them a chance and you will marvel at the India they can create. This chance will not come if India does not get a stable government,” the president said.
He said “rise of hypocrisy in public life” was dangerous. He said the rage will abate only when governments deliver social and economic progress “not at a snail’s pace, but with the speed of a racehorse”. The president said there will be a new government before his address next year and problems of the country will not disappear overnight. “Who wins the coming election is less important than the fact that whosoever wins must have an undiluted commitment to stability, honesty, and the development of India. We live in a turbulent part of the world where factors of instability have grown in the recent past,” the president said.
He said communal forces and terrorists will still seek to destabilize the country but they will never win. “Mavericks who question the integrity of our armed services are irresponsible and should find no place in public life,” the president said. He said fault lines in democracy were handiwork of those “who have made power a gateway to greed”. “If Indians are enraged, it is because they are witnessing corruption and waste of national resources. If governments do not remove these flaws, voters will remove governments,” he said. The president said he was not a cynic and democracy had marvellous ability to “self-correct…and 2014 must become a year of healing after the fractured and contentious politics of the last few years”.
“I am sure 2014 will be the year of resurgence,” he said and noted that India can become an example to the world. Referring to the slowdown of economy in the last two years, the president said that it can be some cause of concern but none for despair. “The green shoots of revival are already visible. The agricultural growth in the first half of this year has touched 3.6 percent and rural economy is buoyant,” he said.
The president said that promise of India has sometimes been mislaid by misfortune and at other times by complacence and weakness. “Destiny has given us another opportunity to recover what we have lost. We will have no one to blame but ourselves if we falter,” the president said.
The president said “passions were rising over whether we should have smaller states” and noted that the debate on the issue should conform to democratic norms. “The politics of divide and rule has extracted a heavy price on our subcontinent. If we do not work together, nothing ever will work,” he said.
Noting that India must find its own solutions to its problems, the president said the country should not indulge in easy option of mindless imitation. “India has the intellectual prowess, the human resource and financial capital to shape a glorious future. We possess a dynamic civil society with an innovative mindset. Our people, whether in villages or cities, share a vibrant, unique consciousness and culture. Our finest assets are human,” he said.
Calling for focus on quality of education, he said “we must usher in an education revolution that becomes a launching pad for national resurgence”. IANS