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Lacklustre leadership failing UPA

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Govt crying for statesmanship

Our Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) II government, which completes three years in office on May 22, presents a picture in contrast. While its performance is not as abject as an aggressive Opposition would want to make it look like; it has suffered greatly on the count of lacking in a charismatic and decisive leadership.

The biggest shortcoming of the present government is in the area of political management, for which it’s completely dependent on the party leadership. The party leadership on the other hand, often feels handicapped to douse fires relating to matters of pure administrative nature – be it the agitation by Swami Ramdev or by the Team of Anna Hazare.

 

A survey conducted by Centre for Reforms, Development and Justice (CRDJ), a Delhi-based research and discussion group, based on perception emerging out of the discussions within intelligentsia comprising students, teachers, researchers, lawyers, journalists, corporates and retired government officials among others, makes a pointed arguments in support of its findings. The inputs gathered during the past fortnight by the research body has yielded results which will not leave the UPA government very happy but at the same time it points out that all has not been lost and there was still scope to regain the poise.

As mentioned earlier, the government has failed miserably on the front of political management. This has impacted its performance in various other sectors especially in the areas of economy and prevention of corruption. While the charges of corruption have not stuck on the senior Congress ministers, the UPA II still carries the cross of being a government which has failed to prevent corruption. Despite dropping A Raja and retaining the Telecom Ministry with the Centre, the UPA has not been able to gain positively for the actions it has taken to arrest decay.

The government’s failure to carry its allies along on matters of economic reforms too has impacted this sector adversely. However while the government is rated just average in the economic sector, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has a high public acceptability rating. This is probably due to the fact that he has successfully created the image of being an honest trier though he may have failed on delivery.

 

Again, in contrast, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Minister for HRD and Telecom Kapil Sibal are rated high for administrative effectiveness but their public acceptability rating takes a dent due to poor political management. In the case of P Chidambaram the Opposition’s consistent attack on him has dented his rating on personal integrity, whereas Kapil Sibal despite the controversial “zero loss” statement still commands a high rating.

The old adage of “Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion” still holds water. This is especially visible in the case of Defence Minister AK Antony. His spotless image has allowed him to weather through the political storm created by open show of dissidence by the outgoing Chief of Army Staff General VK Singh. Despite an average rating for administrative effectiveness and political management, Antony gets a thumps up in overall impression.

 

The allies too tell a contrasting tale. While Sharad Pawar and Farooq Abdullah emerge as assets, Railway Minister Mukul Roy springs a surprise as he too is rated in the same class as his two senior colleagues. Their ratings are considerably perked up by their high public acceptability and able political management in the areas of their personal influence. Mukul Roy, it must be mentioned here, is not seen as distinct entity from his leader Mamata Banerjee.

 

The survey clearly shows that Dr Manmohan Singh has failed to provide leadership to the coalition government and that his senior colleague SM Krishna, Minister for External Affairs, is proving to be a complete baggage unable to provide either leadership or dynamism to his Ministry. The need of the hour is statesmanship at the top; it could either come from the Prime Minister’s Office or the office of the Congress President.

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