New Delhi: There are only two forces that will put to flight Sonia Gandhi’s deceitful politics and humble the Congress in the elections. The markets have already revolted against the United Progressive Alliance regime and particularly and murderously disfavoured the Congress president’s food security bill framed to suit cynical votebank politics. The turn of the young electorate will come after September-end, as market watchers prognosticate, when the worsening business climate will trigger large-scale lay-offs, leading to anger on the streets, and focussed frustration and revulsion towards the government. The targets will not be worthless entities like Manmohan Singh and Palaniappan Chidambaram but the source of the present crisis, which is none other than Sonia Gandhi. The young will be in the vanguard of the struggle against her, and Narendra Modi will be their leader. It will spell doom for the Congress party as a political force and nix the future of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Which is why any more delay of the general election will be cataclysmic for the Congress party and the ruling family.

In the 1960s and 1970s, it did not matter for most of the rest of India what Bombay, leave alone the world, thought. India was fighting for survival trapped in socialist ideology, and the political economy was coloured by the ever-present Cold War. The 1990s unlocked India’s entrepreneurial energies and provoked a consumption revolution and it has never been the same. India rose on the sheer strength of its own enterprise which is why it became such an attractive destination for Western countries and investors looking for vast untapped markets. You can fool a lot of people a lot of the time, but markets are hard to con. Till India was a genuine growth story, the market chose to be an ally, but once the country started to haemorrhage under the United Progressive Alliance, it gave quit notice, and has eventually turned its back. The market won’t be cajoled till Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram are around and Sonia Gandhi is determined to ruin the economy. And never underestimate the market, the power of money. It will bring India to its knees. And this will happen soon unless fresh elections are called. The Congress is not coming back. All it can possibly hope to minimize is the margin of defeat. Two months ago, internal surveys gave the Congress three to four Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh with the loss of Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi constituency and 88 seats in total. With the market crash, skyrocketing food prices, business losses, and looming industrial shutdown and resultant unemployment, the Congress numbers could plunge to 50.

Meanwhile, big trouble is expected from young voters, who are anyway by and large with Modi, and will turn more pronouncedly in his direction as the economic situation worsens. The young have a different outlook towards politicians than those from older generations. Without the security of government jobs for so many of them, they share a relationship of brutal intimacy with the phrase “perform or perish”. They say if they are sacked for non-performance, why oughtn’t ministers to suffer the same fate? Why shouldn’t Chidambaram be dismissed for failing as finance minister, and what good is served by suffering a zero performer such as Manmohan Singh for ten years? The young demand answers, and they neither respect power nor fear it. Power holds no fascination for them. And when they see their futures darkened and sealed by an incompetent government, they will become vengeful. The traditional passivity of the Indian middle class has forestalled a Tahrir Square-like revolution from taking root and kept Maoism in the peripheries. But the young are a different nation, and play by entirely different rules. In an extreme situation, they will do the unthinkable.

Sanity dictates that fresh elections are called at the earliest. The market will not be satisfied with less. In a previous commentary, Market bloodbath (23 August 2013), this writer had exhorted for the removal of Chidambaram and his replacement with an independent-minded, political-economy-savvy politician or industrialist. This remedy will no longer work. Once the rupee falls to 70 against the dollar, a psychological wall will be breached, and it will subsequently decline by Rs 2-5 and more, rapidly hurtling towards the 100 mark. The market trusts nobody in the government, and it has undisguised scorn for Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh. Sonia Gandhi may be a welfare queen for some commentators, but the market sees her in true light. She has helmed India’s most corrupt government since independence. There has been wholesale loot of the country, in which her son-in-law has been a brash and reckless participant. Desperate to return to power to keep a lid on the plunder, she has embarked on a mass deception of the poor. She won’t succeed but that’s beside the point. The market is not with her, and that is where she has met her comeuppance. And very soon, the young will turn against her, and the fortunes of the Congress party will fall faster than the rupee.

The more the elections are delayed, the worse fate awaits the Congress party and 10 Janpath.