Rahul Gandhi should serve as CM of a state to shore up his administrative, development and executive experience credentials before becoming a viable candidate to lead our great nation
India is on the cusp of completing a transformation. Three decades ago started the process of dismantling the central planning system to lay the foundation for a market economy. And considerable progress has been made to pull Indians out of poverty, raise per capita income, create world-class infrastructure and overcome shortages. There is no more food scarcity and wait for phone connections, two and four-wheelers can be driven off instantly from the dealer’s lot, railway tickets can be bought with a click of mouse or in one of the several counters in most towns and cities to any destination and technology prowess of India is visible across the globe.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been at the helm of affairs for the past five years. An impartial evaluation of his record suggests a mixed bag
The country does not lack in resources. Most worldwide think tanks predict India to become the third largest economy by 2030. Central government budget which was approx Rs 1 Lakh crore in 1991 is now Rs 18 Lakh crore and growing at an annual rate of 15%. Seven states have a budget of more than Rs 1 Lakh crore. Over the next five years, central and state governments will spend a trillion dollars on various development projects and welfare schemes. We are well endowed with natural resources, abundant skilled talent and demography if well nurtured can pay huge dividends in the near future.
India might yet witness another lost decade if it does not have a decisive leader at the helm of affairs after the next general election. The consequences of non-governance or worse mistakes committed affect more than a billion people. It sets back aspiration of millions of youngsters and postpones reaping benefits from the much talked about demographic dividend. As our country heads into another parliamentary election, the question uppermost in the minds of voters is not just party ideologies and issues but also the leader who will be decisive and can deliver on a transformational agenda.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been at the helm of affairs for the past five years. An impartial evaluation of his record suggests a mixed bag. On the economic front, benefits from demonetization remain controversial, economic growth and job creation muted. But the government has delivered on corruption, streamlined many of the welfare schemes reaching beneficiaries without any leakages, GST is now more stable and much-touted Mudra loan has had the intended effect on small entrepreneurs. And on foreign affairs, change in Pakistan policy after the Pulwama attack had a roaring approval from citizens.
The Congress too has an able and efficient Prime Ministerial candidate in Captain Amarinder Singh, currently Chief Minister of Punjab.
The opposition trying to unseat the BJP and Prime Minister is the Congress party and a motley group of regional parties whose leaders are jostling for prime position. Amongst the opposition parties, Congress party will likely emerge as the party with the largest number of seats but its party President and leader Mr Rahul Gandhi is seen as lacking in stature and experience to lead India. Leaders of many of the Regional Parties have governance experience but will lack the numbers in Parliament to carry the day through and hence will have difficulty in providing a stable government.
Our country desperately needs political leaders who can envision, plan, communicate, mobilize and execute to be occupying the corridors of power. The next Prime Minister must decisively take India and its people forward on big ideas – Big Government Vs Small Government, Welfare Vs Development, National Security Vs Civil Liberties and Reforms Vs Status Quo Ante. He or She must be able to persuade cabinet colleagues to implement such an agenda.
To any newcomer, the Office of Prime Minister presents an enormous challenge to lead the council of ministers and run the government like a well-oiled machine. Balancing contradictions, exercising power judiciously, inspiring people, asking citizens to sacrifice and promoting the country’s ideals abroad are some of the responsibilities that come with the territory. Modern-day India is increasingly complex to govern with various constituencies vying for political power and economic well being. And to be an effective Prime Minister not only requires personal skills like persuasion and charisma but also keen political instinct with proven management skills and relevant administrative experience.
The Congress too has an able and efficient Prime Ministerial candidate in Captain Amarinder Singh, currently Chief Minister of Punjab. Most recently he led Congress party to victory in state election when most of party leaders and workers were down in despondency and desperation. A fine leader who has served in the Indian military, he has the leadership skills and experience to lead a vast and diverse country like India. Congress party will be wise to name Captain Amarinder Singh as its Prime Ministerial candidate. In the meanwhile, Mr Rahul Gandhi, perceived to be Prime Minister in waiting, should become a Vice-Captain first before he becomes the Captain of the team. He should serve as Chief Minister of a state to shore up his administrative, development and executive experience credentials before becoming a viable candidate to lead our great nation.