By M.V. Kamath
It is not Dr Manmohan Singh’s behaviour towards leaders of the Opposition who came to see him, which is bothersome; Dr Singh, like all of us, is only human and one can understand, even forgive, his roughness. He may have felt, which the Opposition was taking advantage of his gentleness; the story is that prior to meeting them he had an angry encounter with two of his ministerial colleagues which left him ruffled.
What is worrisome is the insensitivity of the Sonia Gandhi'sleadership, which is showing itself in many ways. There was no need to remove that plaque from the monument to martyrs at Cellular Jail in the Andamans, which carried a statement made by Veer Savarkar. Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyer was needlessly giving offence to millions of his fellow countrymen, who hold Savarkar in the highest regards. Short of being hanged (which would have been a merciful end), Savarkar had been tortured endlessly for 14 long and continuous years. One believes that no one has even once physically slapped Aiyer on his face for him to understand what pain means. Savarkar suffered pain without end.
And then the statements regularly made by HRD Minister Arjun Singh to the effect that he is bent on ‘detoxifying’ the administrative staff and clearing it of all RSS suspects.
We are not living in the nineteen fifties in the America of Joe McCarthy. Again, where was the need to resurrect a nine-year-old case against Uma Bharti when the only ‘crime’ that she allegedly committed was to raise the national flag on admittedly disputed grounds? At the most she might have been asked to pay a moderate fine. Is the Congress so desperate to stay in power that it has to put up with the likes of Lalu Prasad Yadav and a few other ‘tainted’ ministers? Would such a thing have ever been acceptable to Jawaharlal Nehru? Or to Mahatma Gandhi?
In the one hundred days of Congress-led UPA government, it has nothing to show except meanness. It is a sad commentary in our times that the once-great Congress, in its desperation to stay in power, has allowed itself to be humiliated by the likes of Lalu Prasad Yadav and Jyoti Basu. But what else can one expect from a party that thinks it is greater than the government?
Then there is the continuous harassment of Narendra Modi, over the number of cases following the post-Godhra riots that were ‘closed’ because the persons involved are untraceable. Surely, the Union Government knows that if there were over 2,000 such cases in Gujarat, there are some 1,358 similar cases that have remained closed in Mumbai following the 1993-94 riots? We now also have the evidence of P.G. Gavai, the former Lt. Governor of Delhi, who has now stated in an affidavit that had the Union Government called for aid from the armed forces immediately following the assassination of Indira Gandhi, some 2,000 Sikh lives would have been saved. The Congress government wants us all to forget these facts. The general impression one gets is that it is not justice that the current Congress-led UPA government is interested in but vengeances of the pettiest kind. It is disgraceful.
Predictably, the Opposition in the Lok Sabha is being non-cooperative and the story is being cleverly planted that by not letting the Lok Sabha function, the Opposition is making the country lose several crores of rupees. How the Congress MPs behaved in Opposition during the 13th Lok Sabha term has been completely forgotten. This is an adolescent behaviour, unacceptable to the country and the sooner Sonia Gandhi understand this, the better for all concerned. In the first place, the Congress, at the risk of being kept out of power should not have included the likes of Lalu Prasad Yadav in its Cabinet. In the second place, it should have also distanced itself from the Leftist parties, knowing their record over the years from 1942 onwards. In all these years the communist record has been anti-national. Under P.C. Joshi’s leadership, communists betrayed the Quit India Movement. Under B.T. Ranadive’s leadership, the communists took to large-scale violence. Every time they wanted guidance, their leaders like Shripad Anant Dange flew to Moscow. That at the beginning of the 21st century the Congress should have to submit to Leftist bullying and terrorisation remains a matter of shame.
The party itself is now becoming the fiefdom of the Nehru-Gandhi clan, as was witnessed at the AICC session recently held in Delhi when Rahul Gandhi was all but anointed as the successor to his mother. Is this the party of the people as it once glorified in being so? The Mahatma wanted the Congress to turn into a Lok Sevak Sangh. Today it has become a party of the fat cats seeking power and glory.
Things are going wrong for India in Nepal and the External Affairs Ministry seems paralysed. The democratic opposition in the Maldives is seeking external intervention so that the minimum of democratic freedom is restored in the island ‘nation’. Delhi seems incapacitated. There is trouble brewing in neighbouring Bangladesh where an assassination attempt was made on Opposition leader, Sheikh Hasina. Bangladesh incidentally has become a haven for all anti-Indian rebel forces like ULFA. New Delhi appears unconcerned.
A report released by the Home Ministry itself notes that even as India is striving to improve relations with Pakistan, Pakistan is not only holding an undiminished capacity to control the level of cross-border terrorism but three is also a sharp rise in the infiltration attempts from across the Line of Control (LoC). According to Chief of Army Staff General N.C. Vij, “There is no doubt that infiltration attempts are increasing day by day.” India is slipping badly and noticeably. Under the ‘inspiring leadership’ of Sonia Gandhi, India has won one silver medal in the Athens Olympics. A nation of over one billion people could not get even one gold medal when small and insignificant countries like Denmark, Belgium, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovenia, Cameroon and Zimbabwe did far better. Instead of concerning ourselves with these issues, the Congress government is concerned about Uma Bharti’s flag-hoisting at some disputed public land and a plaque honouring Veer Savarkar in the Cellular Jail in the Andamans, all in the much-exploited name of secularism.
Sonia Gandhi is in political purdah and is unaccountable to Parliament. The Finance Ministry has no idea how to control rising inflation. Thousands of crores of rupees are recklessly spent on keeping farmers in good spirits and never mind if the state debts are mounting the Himalayan heights. Electricity is given free in rural areas while urbanites have to pay for it through their nose. We seem to have a government that is all at sea; but hell-bent on seeking vengeance against an Opposition on supposedly ideological grounds without any logic or reason. There is palpable despair in the country which is being deliberately ignored. In the one hundred days of Congress-led UPA government, it has nothing to show except meanness. It is a sad commentary in our times that the once-great Congress, in its desperation to stay in power, has allowed itself to be humiliated by the likes of Lalu Prasad Yadav and Jyoti Basu. But what else can one expect from a party that thinks it is greater than the government?