In terms of attracting top drawer professional talent from outside the political arena to their respective folds, the BJP over the past three decades is clearly ahead of the Congress. In that sense, the decision of India’s ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan to join the saffron party in his home state of Kerala a couple of months ahead of the Assembly election due in May is emblematic of what the BJP has got right and the Congress has not. Interestingly, this is a situation entirely of the latter’s own making.
It may not be too widely known but during UPA-II Delhi’s power corridors were abuzz with the efforts being made by well-wishers of Mr Sreedharan to get the Manmohan Singh government to nominate him to the Rajya Sabha. His proven excellence in the field of engineering, his integrity, and his contribution in a very tangible way to nation-building ought to have made him a shoo-in. But no.
The elitism embedded in the Congress’ DNA meant that, instead, some bright spark in the party thought it an even brighter idea to figuratively throw something to the ‘people’, as India’s citizenry is patronisingly referred to by the baba log, and Sachin Tendulkar and Rekha were nominated to the Upper House. Both legends barely opened their mouths and what their contribution was to the Rajya Sabha remains an abiding mystery for most.
Earlier, under UPA I, there was a concerted campaign by those with the Congress’ interests at heart to get the administration to appoint an upright, young bureaucrat to the post of Information Commissioner so as to showcase the party’s commitment to the Right to Information which it had commendably put on the statute. Again, the powers-that-be didn’t play ball. The name of the bureaucrat was Arvind Kejriwal and he went on to become the Congress’ nemesis.
Mr Sreedharan told media that his decision to join the BJP, despite it being only a bit player with a grand total of one MLA in the 140-member Kerala Assembly, was based on what he had observed living in the state post-retirement over the past 10 years. “I have seen different (Congress and Left) governments and they are not doing what can be done for the people.”
Of crucial import, though, as the octogenarian Engineer Emeritus of India, to coin a phrase, begins his new innings, is not the political hara-kiri the Congress continues to commit but the sociological reasons why it does do. And that has everything to do with its assiduously nurtured culture of inter-generational entitlement, not to mention servility and cronyism.