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Must read article by Shashi Tharoor in the TOI

The French have exactly what our country needs and we are constitutionally incapable of having: a strong national executive

The political developments across the country have become tough to keep pace with. Here is an Offstumped roundup to start the week.

The Supreme Court’s rap on Karunanidhi’s DMK Government on the Sethusamudram bandh is welcome. Predictably the Communist Mafia is asserting its right to disrupt. Comrades Yechury, Karat and Basu should know better having devised institutionalized “gherao” as an instrument of  enforcing public policy. The Comrades worry has less to do with Sethusamudram and more to do with the implications to organized labor and their luxury to strike at will. A dose of Sarkozy is what Indian Communists need. Tharoor’s article is indeed timely in this respect.

In Karnataka Deve Gowda continues to remind us why he is a dark influence. The media reporting on the Urban Local Body polls was pathetic. CNN-IBN takes the cake for the worst headliner, “JD-S wins defeating BJP and Congress”. Its a different matter we are not talking overall tallies here but specific bodies where either you have a majority or a hung body. The message from the polls is clear. The state is divided 3 ways. Unless Gowda is cosying up to his bete-noire Siddaramiah he has no option but to ally with the BJP to remain in contention for power. This message is not lost on him despite the bravado. The BJP should remain firm and not betray anymore eagerness for power. Gowda will come around or as the Indian Express put it, its best the state went to polls.

On the Nuclear Issue the left continues to dance around the question of pulling the plug. As Offstumped had predicted, the Manmohan Singh UPA Government will continue on life support while Rahul Gandhi’s Internship and the Left’s calculation on when it can cut its losses would ultimately determine when the tube will be removed and euthanasia will be performed. The first of the two conditions have been met in public with the Congress shamelessly trying to attribute credit for a flawed program in the NREGA to the “not so young anymore” Rahul Gandhi. The second was discussed in private if media reports are to be believed with Comrade Karat’s assessment on the Left’s chances. More indications on the second from Kerala with the withdrawal of suspension of MS Achuthanandan and Pinarayi Vijayan. Between the stance on Oct 5th in the next committee meeting and the conduct of polls in Gujarat is when the Left will likely pull the plug.

All eyes are now on to Gujarat and the man most love to hate Narendra Modi on which brings us back to the subject of this post.

It is now more likely than ever before that the key to BJP regaining its momentum and the trigger to the Left withdrawing Life Support to the UPA lies with how Narendra Modi fares in Gujarat. As Offstumped had pointed out earlier Modi by speaking in favor of the spirit of enterprise and shunning populism in an election year has shown shades of acting like a Sarkozy. Whether he ultimately follows through and becomes one will depend on many factors, not the least of which is victory for him Gujarat and a resounding one at that. His task is not easy with a formidable line up of dissidents in Keshubhai Patel, Suresh Mehta and Kashiram Rana.

Exciting times are ahead, Offstumped will be there to watch with this closing note from a piece critiquing the NREGP by S Narayan in the Mint.

It is time to shift the debate to the importance of direct transfers to the poor… It is time to think up new direct welfare schemes….

One example that works is in Gujarat.

Every expectant mother can get antenatal care as well as delivery at a clinic of her choice, and lists of approved clinics are published at every government office. The state reimburses the clinic directly—there is a limit, which is quite comfortable in the rural areas. Beneficiaries are encouraged to report shortcomings directly. Direct cash transfers are the best way of reaching the poor. If we can do this, and strengthen the PDS, we would have tackled the problem


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