Is it any wonder that official America is in love with Sonia Gandhi and her chosen instrument, Manmohan Singh? Both have ensured?with the full backing of the CPM and the CPI?that the Government of India is today effectively directed by junior officials in this city, the same way as Iraq and Afghanistan are. Wherever one goes in Washington, whomever one meets who is in the policy establishment, the joy at getting a team in India that 100 per cent listens to US advice is visible.The hope here is that the BJP and the rest of the NDA will continue to wallow in their present confusion, so that the Sonia-Manmohan team can continue for a full 5-year term. It is a wish shared by Pervez Musharraf as well, who is looking forward to an Indian withdrawal from Siachen and Sir Creek, and the creation of soft borders in Kashmir that would undo the damage done to the jehadi caused by the expensively-built barrier across the Line of Control
It needs to be admitted that the slippage in national security that is being witnessed today began during the time of the NDA government. This columnist has consistently pointed out the numerous missteps made by the NDA, beginning with the Kargil intrusions, caused because those at the top refused to believe that the jehadi army of Pakistan would behave dishonourably, despite five decades of evidence to the contrary.
If Sonia Gandhi is confident about continuing in her Mission Surrender to Foreign Interests, it is because the NDA shows no signs of having learnt from the mistakes of the past, but is instead continuing with the same attitudes that led to the 1998 rout. Hopefully, the situation will change before it is too late for a country already watching a complete loss of influence in its own neighbourhood and the fusing of Maoist insurgency to jehadi.
To add a dash of comic relief to developing tragedy, Sonia Gandhi has made the UPA formally propose UN Under-Secretary Shashi Tharoor as the next Secretary-General. This selection goes against several conventions, including one that requires a UN head to have had ministerial-level experience in his own country. While Kofi Annan was Foreign Minister of Ghana twice, Shashi Tharoor has spent his working life within the UN headquarters. Another convention is that the candidate belong to a smaller, less controversial country. India is neither. A third is the reality that the obvious infirmities in the way the UN is being operated presently mandate an outsider rather than an individual who has not merely contributed to a dysfunctional system, but has been among its principal beneficiaries. Of course, for Tharoor himself, this move by India is welcome, as he can now leave the organisation on a high note, with his pension intact.
Why Tharoor? Friends within the UPA say that this was Sonia'sway of snubblng Manmohan Singh, who?informed groups claim?himself had an eye on Annan'sjob. The PM needs to be pushed into his lowly place every now and again, and Sonia misses few opportunities to do so. But the principal reason for the UPA supremo'sdiktat is less the impulse to further debase Manmohan Singh than the mindset found in a book that is now on the bookstands. The author is Tharoor himself, and the revealing title is ?Nehru: The Invention of India?. According to Shashi Tharoor, India has become what it is not because of its people or even individuals such as Tagore, Gandhi and Patel, but owing to the superhuman qualities of a single colossus, Jawaharlal Nehru. If the book is to be believed,it is Nehru and his family?stretching down to Sonia, of course?who almost singlehandedly made the country a functioning democracy. Small wonder that Sonia Gandhi has decided that this unbiased and scientific mind is precisely the one needed to preside over the UN. Who knows, the next Tharoor book may be ?Sonia: The Invention of Humanity?. Just as in the past, it was buddies of Brajesh Mishra who were pitchforked into key positions, these days it is boosters of the Nehru family. It will not be long before another flatterer of the Nehrus, Sunil Khilnani, becomes the next Indian Ambassador to the US, replacing Ronen Sen, who no doubt will be taken care of elsewhere
Words are cheap, it is deeds that count. Even while the CPI and the CPM weakly ?protest? at the foreign policy of the UPA, the fact remains that both have joined with Sonia Gandhi. Just whom is the CPI and the CPM fooling when they claim to be ?against US hegemony? but are responsible for keeping in office the very UPA that has demonstrated unprecedented loyalty to Washington. These days, Manmohan Singh avoids the all-important Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit because his boss is nervous that attendance by an Indian Prime Minister at a summit where Iranian President Ahmedinejad is present would prompt US envoy David Mulford to remember yet more Swiss bank account numbers. Of course, times have changed, and the new haven for the proceeds of the enormous deals now being done by the Energy, Defense and other ministries is in Hong Kong, not that our Finance Minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, would dare be interested, even though it is common knowledge in international financial circles
Army sources say that there is daily pressure from Manmohan Singh to arrange a speedy withdrawal from Siachen, while naval officers speak of the same prime ministerial desire to get India to concede the very territory in Sir Creek that Ayub Khan went to war over in 1965. As for scientists in the Department of Atomic Energy, they are a demoralized lot these days, aware that it will not be long before the Sonia-Manmohan duo install ?IAEA? inspectors in almost all the installations needed to ensure success in the crucial thorium conversion programme, as well as in the production of missiles that can protect the billion-plus people of India. Singh, of course, will not have a problem, he can live with one of his daughters in New York, enjoying his dollar pension, and neither will Sonia, who can very quickly get her Italian citizenship back (in case she ever lost it)
This columnist has been a backer of a strong India-US alliance since 1995, but this is one that needs to be on the basis of Washington acknowledging that India has the same rights and status as London and Paris, not that now endured by Kabul and Baghdad, the abyss into which Sonia-Manmohan are pushing this country into. Washington is smirking at how a country of a billion people has been reduced to the status of what Mao Zedong used to term a ?running dog?. Prakash Karat and A.B. Bardhan need not, of course, worry, for being atheists, they will not have to answer for their support to such a regime in the hereafter. However, in the interests of intellectual, it would be best for them to admit that they have joined Sonia-Manmohan in celebrating the new status of India, as the third leg in the Kabul-Baghdad-New Delhi neo-colonies. To support the UPA in the Lok Sabha and then pretend they are opposed to its core policy is to underestimate the intelligence of the voters of India, who are waiting for the chance to settle scores with the Sultans and Sultanas of Surrender.