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Sunday, May 16, 2004

 

To Join or Not to Join

One of our readers has posed an interesting and important question - why wouldn't somebody who has the opportunity to join a govt in a parliamentary system NOT join?
I am by no means an expert on parliamentary democracy but here's what I think.

I guess this issue is coming up as the Left parties have almost (formal announcements awaited) decided NOT to join the Congress-led coalition government in India. Their rationale seems to be that such a move would ideologically dilute them. They are bitter rivals of the Congress in some states as well. The divergence of economic viewpoints is perhaps the greatest reason why the Left will sit out and in their own words prevent the BJP from "usurping" the opposition's agenda. So, the Left will strategically vote with the Congress to maintain a non-BJP govt. On specific bills they seem to want to have the option to freely vote their mind. And they believe that given the gap in economic thinking they will not be doing justice to the faith placed in them by their constituents if they join the govt.

I must say that this is a rarity given the opportunistic nature of multi-party democracy, of which India is perhaps the best example. Rarely does ideology triumph over opportunism. We may be seeing an instance of that.

Before I close this should be a welcome sign for the economic reforms lobby which has been freaking out (the Indian Stock market reporting heavy losses) since the news of a Congress-Left govt hit the wires. The Congress will now have a greater say on matters of economic reforms. They will still need to take the Left into confidence to get things passed but precipitous situations like Left ministers resigning and stuff will be avoided now. Anyways, with Dr.Manmohan Singh (the father of the economic liberalization process) at the financial helm there should be few worries on the market and progressive sides of the political fence. I am sure that the Congress and he himself have learnt many lessons in the 8 years that they filled the benches of the opposition. These lessons will enable him to make more inclusive yet forward looking policy.

Peace.

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