Leadership Matters More Than Parties
Prof N.K. Singh
Former Chairman International Airports Authority of India
It is emerging as a global trend that nations are favouring strong leaders with nationalistic fervour many time not subservient to the party agenda or ideology. So we have Narendra Modi in India, Putin in Russia and now Trump in USA. Even before this trend became clear in smaller way, regions too exhibited this change in the domination of national and regional spheres. So we had Mamta Banerjee, Navin Patnaik and Nitish Kumar. It is surprising that one of the largest states in India too is witnessing this phenomenon as shown in the recent tussle between father and son in Uttar Pradesh. Mulayam Singh has been ruling the party leadership for long as prime socialist face in north India and one time was mentioned as Prime Minister candidate also. Today his party has witnessed rise of his son who commands majority and is changing the style of party functioning which depended on money and muscle power so far. The son is following just the opposite agenda of clean politics and development. The party that claimed to be follower of Ram Manohar Lohia was hardly a shade of his thinking or ideology. When Lohia died, he had no bank balance and all his life he lived in Spartan manner. Akhlesh Yadav followed more clean and pro-development policies and was liked by the masses. I learnt in wide discussions at Varanasi that Akhlesh is the only favourable Chief Minister face in Uttar Pradesh.
The tragedy of Indian politics is that many leaders who have ruled the states for long stick so long that unless they are pushed out, they do not exit and do not let the younger ones groom to take up the leadership reigns. The old man in UP has virtually dumped party’s future that had good hold in the state and is a strong force in the upcoming elections. Unseemly war of the family has screwed up the chances of winning and the family spate continues. It was highly personality based politics and there was no ideology or agenda except appeasement of the minority for vote bank. Now it will Akhilesh who will dictate party agenda whatever the minority group led by Mulayam Singh might do. The fight in the family will undoubtedly impact the chances of winning the polls as washing linen in public will not be admired by followers or voters. And it might yield space to BJP.
Internationally also the personality cult is rising with the advent of Trump in United States. Republican were not very pleased with the brusque remarks and strong dealings of the leader but in the end he won decisively. His thinking on terrorism and nationalism is strongly permeating the government thinking if one goes by his beliefs and utterances. Obama on the other hand had made many faux pas as in case of Syria where Putin stole a march over him. Obama followed the conventional route of opposing Russia but now the world had changed and perhaps ISI and China could be more threat than Soviets. If the world had to fight against the barbaric Islamic state outfit one had to support the regime in the country. But it was a mistake to side with rebels which later was changed but by that time Russian strategist were ruling. This gives an edge to Trump along with other failures of administration to score over Democrats. Trump will have an impact on world policies. It is another case when a strong leader was following own mission. Trump senses the change in world politics and has given his mind to China as well clear signal of wiping out terror groups. There are upheavals expected in geopolitics and personality of leader would matter.
Back home, Modi changed the Hindutva agenda with Ram Mandir to development oriented policies to become a national hero rather than Hindu rashtra hero. No doubt he remains a staunch Hindu but like Shivaji he could keep his faith strong while honouring other faiths and treating them equal that constitution demands of all. Modi’s ‘Sab ka saath’ will remain guiding principle and that is the road to national prosperity and peace. There remains still some critics who castigate these strong men as dictators or Hitlers but it is far from truth as both are elected democratically and would work within the constitutional framework. Time is changing and strength of a leader will determine how far he brings change to the fossilised thinking of politics in keeping with global changes.
First Passenger: Why our MP has been removed from the BCCI?
Second Passenger: It looks now judges will play cricket and cricketers will write judgments.