By Himanshu Chauhan:
The united progressive alliance (UPA) is the governing coalition of India led by the Indian National Congress (INC) that came to power in the 14th Lok Sabha elections in 2004. It came to power when the then governing coalition NDA (National Democratic Alliance) lost the voters confidence and could only achieve 169 seats out of the total as compared to the 222 captured by the former.
It then constituted of the Left Front with 59 MP’s, SP with 39 MP’s, BSP with 19 MP’s and other small parties. Led by the party president of the of the INC Sonia Gandhi, who chose not to become the Prime Minister due to the havoc and questions raised by the opponents on the legality of her appointment for she enjoyed a dual citizenship status from Italy, Dr, Manmohan Singh became the PM of India. It continues to be in power till date, winning again in the 15th Lok Sabha elections in an even concrete manner and Dr. Manmohan Singh became the second PM after Jawaharlal Nehru to continue in the seat after a full tenure. This time it won with an overall of 335 seats including 206 seats of the INC alone. In the course, it has also survived a vote of confidence in 2008 and came clean out of it.
UPA came to power because there was unrest in the larger and weaker section of the society on how things were progressing under the NDA government; the communal politics that the BJP played to come to power turned into the reason for their eviction. The promises made by the NDA to resolve the Ayodhya matter were not met. This resulted in a feeling of betrayal and impatience amongst the crowds that supported BJP and also created anxiety amongst other sections particularly the minorities. Economic and education reforms were also not up to the expected level as well. There was static development in the infrastructure of roads and rails but due to several reasons the streak of progress could not aptly penetrate the rural scenery, the poor and social inequalities too grew. The UPA campaign capitalized on these facts and designed their campaigns and agendas towards promoting the interest of minorities so as to ring social equality focusing largely on the rural masses that were at unrest due to communal, religion related as well as economic reasons.
Not so comfortably enjoying successive time in the office, PM Dr. Manmohan Singh has done a lot of progressive work during his reign. He was the finance minister back in 1991 under the government of P.V Narsimha Rao and was the forerunner who led India into the era of Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization, bailing the economy out of the major economic crisis. Those reforms ended the license raj system and paced up the progress of India. The policies that he outlay as the PM played substantial role in keeping the impact of the global economic crisis to least effect India as compared to other major economies of the world. In 2007, India achieved a stable and increasing growth rate of 9% becoming the second fastest growing economy of the world.
Major reforms have been carried out by the UPA government in the sectors of primary as well as the higher education system objected at giving a more practical and training based approach. The Right to Information Act brought in has played crucial role in detection and curbing of corruption. NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.) has been able to help the poor sections in various regions in various degrees. More than 300 million people, more than the entire population of USA, have been able to outgrow the clasp of extreme poverty till 2009. Banking reforms have proved beneficial. Improvement is seen in foreign relations with US, EU, Japan, France, Italy and other countries are a proof of the sound foreign policy. The signing of the Indo-Nuclear under the 123 Act, defense alignment with Israel and other successful international ventures are colorful feathers in the governments cap.
In spite of all the appraisals and achievements that the UPA government has on its report card, it has been regularly brought under fire by the media and the opposition foe several reasons. Reservation quotas for minorities and other socially backward blocks have social tensions throughout the country, especially in the northern states. Strong protests regularly come up from several social groups demanding a piece of the quota cake. Also the policy has been accused of misuse to guide vote banks. Price rise is another topic as prices of most of the daily essential commodities have seen steep rise.
Biggest scams in the history of India have been unearthed. 2G scam related to the telecom industry, S-Band scam, Adarsh society scam, CWG scam, Jharkhand minister involved in a scam that was more than the states entire budget and was estimated of up to 2,400 crores, illegal mining licensing and some more are the black spots on their performance. Other criticisms include growth of red-tapeism, soft approach towards terrorism, insurgency and crime, very less development in the field of rail and road ways, rampant corruption in the administration and officer blocks and more. At current, the PM is facing allegations on the unconstitutional appointment of the Chief of Vigilance Council, the anti-corruption machinery of India.
The accusations related to the government are severe but their reasons and the developments cannot be overlooked. Though there has been horrendous price rise recently but at large it has been due to external factors such as rise in the prices of commodities such as crude oil. The fact is that the government has done a lot of work in the field and the result is India is one of the countries that was least affected by economic crisis. Dr. Manmohan Singh’s work on economic policing has been undermined. The country in his office time has grasped healthy developmental momentum and is competing strongly with other nations.
Under a standing stable government implementation and planning of long-term policies has been possible. Also as the INC enjoys a majority in the coalition the implications of a sensitive and fragile coalition have been avoided. Despite the inexcusable humongous scams, the economy is still picking growth pace and their size is also due to the fact that never was a time that such large amount of capital was there in the economy. Many of the changes brought in by the government would take a lot of gestation period so that noticeable changes can be seen but the speculated impact seems sustainable. So if the party takes serious measures in resolving the issues bringing the guilty to justice and successfully do the other firefighting works that it has to in its remaining time of power than it is though not the best but a better option than any other party to come to office in a third term as well.