By Shyam Khosla
There must be some compelling reasons for the soft spoken and mild-mannered former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee to condemn the Prime Minister for his arrogant and impolite behaviour towards NDA leaders that went to see him. If the Opposition is provoked to describe the ?gentleman-politician? as ?uncivilised and discourteous?, Dr Manmohan Singh must have done something atrocious.
This is precisely what he did. He had no business to throw at the table the memorandum submitted to him by the NDA leaders and dismiss them by saying he won'tconsider their memorandum. Has the arrogance of power gone into the head of the gentleman who was an entirely different man till the other day?
One shares the Prime Minister'sfrustration and anger over prolonged disruption of Parliament but what moral right he has to lecture the Opposition on its conduct in the light of his own performance as leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha? He led the Opposition'sboycott of the then Defence Minister George Fernandes and refused to listen to him even on sensitive security matters not once, but session after session. No one could accuse Atalji of vindictiveness while the present government is extremely petty minded and vindictive and is bent upon provoking confrontation with the Opposition on every conceivable issue. Sorry, Mr Prime Minister for bluntness but you need to realise that you are no longer a bureaucrat who is dealing with his deputies.
As Prime Minister you have been dealing with eminent men, including no less a person than the former Deputy Prime Minister. You must learn to live with the Opposition that is an integral part of the parliamentary system. The Opposition is not there courtesy the ruling party or the lady who nominated you. They are also elected by the people. The government'sconfrontational approach is as, if not more, responsible for the non-functional budget session as the Opposition. There is no point blaming one or the other.
Sorry, Mr Prime Minister for bluntness but you need to realise that you are no longer a bureaucrat who is dealing with his deputies.
Sonia-dominated government'svindictiveness is evident in the revival of the 10-year old Hubli case against Uma Bharti. The case pertains to the Independence Day in 1994, when she led a BJP procession in violation of the curfew to hoist the national flag at the disputed ?Idgah Maidan? where the local Muslims had illegally constructed some shops on the land belonging to the Hubli civic body. Police opened fire on the procession, killing six persons. She and other BJP leaders were arrested and subsequently released.
The Congress government of Karanataka later framed her and others in a criminal case that lingered on. Two years ago the S.M. Krishna government petitioned the court for withdrawal of all cases pertaining to the Independence Day happenings in ?public interest?. While other cases were dismissed as withdrawn, the court said it had no jurisdiction to allow withdrawal of the case pertaining to charges of attempt to murder against Bharti (?) and issued NBW against her. Nothing happened during the past two years. Things started moving after the new government took over. A fresh NBW was issued on August 3, 2004. Bharti was in Bangalore a few days later but the notice was not served on her. The prosecution sprang a surprise on August 18 by backtracking on its earlier plea for withdrawal of the case against Bharti. It is interesting to recall that the prosecution had in its earlier petition to the court admitted, ?It was not possible to prove the charges because the crime had been committed by 5,000 to 6,000 workers who had formed an unlawful assembly.?
Why has the prosecution changed its position even after submitting in writing that the charges couldn'tbe proved? There is no way to ascertain who is behind it. But the most plausible presumption is that Sonia Gandhi is the person behind the move. Uma Bharti had annoyed Sonia Gandhi to no end by announcing that she would quit the office of Chief Minister and launch a nationwide movement should Sonia Gandhi take over as Prime Minister. Is it an attempt on the part of Sonia Gandhi to teach Uma Bharti a lesson? Bharti rose to the occasion. She resigned with the party high command'spermission after she came to know that a Karnataka police party was on its way to arrest her. Enthusiastic crowds greeted her at every railway station during her journey to Hubli where she surrendered in the court and was sent to judicial custody because she refused to seek bail. The Congress has unwittingly provided the BJP with a highly emotive issue. Uma Bharti has been jailed for unfurling the national flag at the instance of foreign-born Congress president. ?Tiranga and Firangi? is the slogan that will be on the lips and in hearts of millions of patriots throughout the land.
The insults heaped on the great freedom fighter Veer Savarkar by the Congress have enraged millions and millions of patriots. The Congress-led government has refused to reinstall the plaque carrying Veer Savarkar'squotation and name at the Amar Jyoti memorial at Port Blair because he was a Hindu leader. The plaque was removed at the instance of the notoriously anti-Hindu Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyer. He insisted that Veer Savarkar was ?communal? and therefore there was no reason that his quotation or name should be on the plaque.
The Congress-led government dithered on the issue and at one point of time gave the impression that it would reinstall the plaque. Within days it backtracked (on Sonia'sinstructions?) and decided not to reinstall the Savarkar plaque on the memorial. The insult to Savarkar will be one of the core issues in the coming assembly elections in Maharashtra. This has put the Congress-NCP on the backfoot and their state leaders are making noises about the great regard they have for the sacrifices made by Veer Savarkar and his social reforms.
These noises are unlikely to carry conviction with the people of Maharashtra because of the Congress government'scomplexity in the insults heaped by Aiyer on the great revolutionary. Incidentally, journalist Dhiren Bhagat had accused Aiyer of raising funds for the Chinese during the invasion of 1962 in an article in a British magazine, Private Eye. Aiyer says he is no traitor. Will it carry conviction with the masses in the light of his track record?