The PM should live up to his promises

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wants India to make “new beginnings” in 2011. And presumably he wants the same for his government, because nothing could have been worse than the last few months of 2010. It’s going to be a long hard road for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) II as it negotiates the minefields of its own creation.

Although it came to power for its second term in 2009 filled with confidence of an outright mandate, with a depleted Opposition and without the burden of the Left’s demands, its year and a half in power has been filled with inaction, apathy and with allegations of appalling corruption.

“Let’s clear the air of despondency and cynicism” is Singh’s plea to the people of India. But the problem is that the despondency and cynicism both come from the inaction of his government at the Center.

As if rising prices were not bad enough, there was the Commonwealth Games and its corruption charges, the Adarsh Housing society issue where politicians, defense personnel and bureaucrats manipulated the system to get themselves prime housing and, of course, the Rs. 1.76 crore 2G spectrum allocation scam. Under the circumstances, cynicism and despondency are, it could well be said, the order of the day.

In his message to the nation Singh has promised to “cleanse governance.” This is the least he can do. Ministers at the Central and state levels have revealed themselves to be corrupt even beyond our usual levels of cynicism. Unfortunately for Singh, barring a few exceptions — like former Union Telecom Minister A. Raja of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam — it has been the Congress Ministers and politicians, who have been exposed as the most corrupt and the least effective.

It is no longer enough for the Congress Party to harp on the personal integrity of the Prime Minister, the social conscience of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and the wavering charisma of prince-in-waiting Rahul Gandhi. Singh needs to put his money where his mouth is — by stopping his party colleagues from stealing our money.

The year — 2011 places a huge burden of expectation on Singh and his governance skills. He has to pull this government up from the bottom. The problem is not just corruption and inflation. The internal and external security threats remain, Kashmir is being stirred up again and the burden of poverty has not changed. Before we believe in his promises for the New Year, we need to see some concrete and effective action. The people are watching.

Courtesy: DNA India

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