From walking to running the talk

Though the win of the new PDP government heralded change, everyone knew that the new government of the day had enormous challenges, mainly economic in nature, before it.

While taking care of the daily grinding task of governance, however, important issues like transparency, freedom of press, more consultation in decisions making, etc., where the former government had blundered, also cannot be taken lightly.

Many wondered that in a situation where even experienced and skilled administrators, in the form of the older ministers, had failed – speculations were on how the new and inexperienced ministers would manage.

The jury is still out, and even though it has been more than seven months since they assumed power, it is still difficult to give a definite answer. However, it is never too early to make broad value judgment on where the government is heading.

The new government has made all the right symbolic moves so far – from doing away with the unpopular Pedestrian day to cutting down a lot of pomp and ceremony around ministers.

They have also adopted a seemingly more ‘down-to-earth’ attitude – be it in Meet-the-People program or giving up the higher chairs and sitting at the same level as the press in the monthly Meet-the-Press.

There is also no doubt that the government of the day, facing a troubled economic situation and the promise of a 100 days program, has done far more in its first seven months than the previous government.

Going from the observations of some civil servants and observers – the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers seem to be trying their best to get up to speed on their respective roles and responsibilities.

They have also gone ahead and taken a bold decision to close down the Education City project which was starting to look more like a real estate project despite strong criticism from the Opposition.

After the dominance of the Opposition party in the first Parliament session, the recent Parliament session saw a more balanced performance as the new government came better prepared. The icing on the cake was successfully passing a RTI bill which could have been stronger, but was slightly better than expected.

So far, so good. However, for those following the social media – an interesting phenomenon has been taking place in the last few weeks. A lot of social media accounts, both anonymous and real, that were previously critical of the DPT government have now started becoming critical of the current government.

There are also increasingly loud murmurs from the very supporters of the ruling party on its performance.

The increasing tribe of those who are becoming critical of the current government have three major issues.

One is that while the former government was disliked for its arrogance and authoritarianism, the current government is being seen as indecisive and afraid of making tough decisions.

The second issue is that even after more than seven months at the helm – many of the ministers are still heavily dependent on their bureaucrats and have not been able to take effective charge.

The third reason, the most important one, is that several of the problems that got the former government voted out of power – still continue unabated. Chief among them is the economic situation of the country and with the private sector in dire straits.

The government need not worry as long as the hardcore supporters of DPT, who will see this government in only one color, are complaining. However, the government of the day should really start worrying if the vast majority of the politically neutral electorate starts feeling that the government is not performing to its optimum or promised limit.

For any individual or organization to be successful, it should not only measure itself by its own yardstick, but more importantly by what the outsiders or public think of it.

The government has not made any terrible mistakes so far, but neither has it done anything to really lift it above nor distinguish it from the previous government. It is now high time to shift the momentum to a higher gear or risk losing popular support over time.

On another note, almost all the MPs and Ministers in the current government are young and have long political careers ahead of them. Five years will come and go and before they know it – they will be facing the elections in 2018. In a political sense, it will be important to build the foundations of success from now itself – by holding themselves to higher standards and performance and keeping their key promises.

“Writing laws is easy, but governing is difficult.”

Leo Tolstoy

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