Is there a government in Delhi? If there is one, who, pray, runs it? Who is responsible for meeting the challenges of day-to-day administration? At his last-and one of his very rare-press conference, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh gave the impression that he is frequently in touch with Sonia Gandhi and is benefitted by her guidance. She is certainly the power behind the throne as the chairperson of the National Advisory Council. Technically, the NCA’s role is strictly recommendatory, but, from what one understands, it is she who runs the show. It is a well-known fact that in regard to the Right to Information Act Sonia Gandhi wants no change while the Prime Minister is allegedly in favour of diluting it.
In the matter of Caste Census, Sonia Gandhi is apparently in favour of it while Dr Singh is not. But what is painful to note is neither Sonia Gandhi nor the Prime Minister has any control over the allies who form the UPA government. There is no cohesiveness within the Cabinet. In fact it is at the total mercy of the DMK which has just eighteen seats in the Lok Sabha. And of the Trinamool Congress and Sharad Pawar’s NCP. The DMK thumbs its nose at the Congress and get away with it. Mamata Banerjee’s behaviour, to say the least, is sickening. She hardly attends Cabinet meetings, is opposed to the price hike on petrol and diesel and makes no bones about it. She wants to cut off relations with the Congress in the forthcoming elections in West Bengal.
DMK’s Telecommunication Minister, A Raja it is openly claimed, has cost the exchequer Rs 4,000 crore in the mobile bands scandal. MK Alagari’s disdain of administrative niceties is shocking. He was absent when the budget was being discussed and was reported holidaying in the Maldives when Parliament was in session. He should have been shown the door a long time ago. But who is willing to take on Karunanidhi? What all these ministers are telling is that it is they, and not the Congress that matter. There is no cohesion within the UPA. If there is, it is not noticeable. The Prime Minister, it appears has no control over anyone.
Shashi Tharoor, an over-estimated diplomat had to quit, to the nation’s relief. He almost brought the government into disrepute. Jairam Ramesh is another example of irresponsible behaviour. He goes to China and damns his own country. Within his own country, his odd behaviour in the matter of ceremonial robes worn during convocation ceremonies can only be described as unbecoming any minister. The acrimonious exchange he had with Surface Transport Minister Kamal Nath over environmental clearance for some of the key highway projects raises questions about his competence to interact with his colleagues. On the Naxal issue the Government seems to be at sixes and sevens with itself and one still does not know where it stands. An excuse is that any step that will be taken doesn’t have to be publicised since that might give the terrorists an opportunity to forestall them.
On the issue of black money, reports suggest that the West German Federal Republic has provided the Government of India names of tax evaders who have deposited millions of dollars in foreign banks. Who are they? Shouldn’t the government reveal their names? Is the information kept secret because involved are politicians, bureaucrats and powerful figures in the industrial world who could create embarrassment to the government? Could it also be that some of them are ex-ministers? The Government has reportedly sought a $ nine billion loan from the World Bank. Doesn’t the government know that many Indian citizens have stashed away as much as $ 1,456 billion just in Swiss banks alone and that the total amount of such black money stashed elsewhere is beyond the figure of $ 2,000 billion? In that context $ nine billion look like pocket money.
On March 5, 2010 it was reported that the Government has identified twenty countries with whom it would enter into agreements regarding exchange of information and systems and that negotiations have even been completed with the Bahamas and Bermuda. So where do we stand? Do we have to stress that the money stashed just in Swiss accounts would suffice to wipe out our entire foreign debt thirteen times over? Why are we kept in the dark over the recovery of this money? Shouldn’t there be a major international movement led by India, the chief sufferer, to force all the twenty “privatised countries” to stop acting like international thugs? The way these countries have become haven to “stolen’ goods, Dawood Ibrahim looks like a gentleman. In every department, it seems, government is seen as a failure. For the fifth month in a row, the rate of inflation has been near or well above double digit levels. The price of food articles has risen by 16.5 per cent. Obviously neither Dr Singh, nor his Finance Minister, nor Sonia Gandhi has ever gone to the market to buy vegetables. A day’s expenditure may be close to a thousand rupees! And then think of our relations with the United States which wants us to be its strategic partner. Right now it already has one in Asia, Pakistan with which, it would seem, it has a “Trust deficit”. To this untrustworthy country, the United States is supplying 12 surveillance drones, 18 latest model F-16 fighters, 8 PC-3 Maritime Recce aircrafts along with 100 Harpoon missiles, all of which are intended for a war against India. And what else does the US do? The US military is funding a massive protection racket in Afghanistan indirectly paying tens of million dollars to warlords and the Taliban to ensure safe passage of its supply convoys throughout the country. And, hold on.
A repot by the London School of Economics says that Pakistani military intelligence not only funds and trains Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, but is officially represented on the movement’s leadership council. The report published on June 13 said research strongly suggested support for the Taliban was the “official policy” of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). And President Obama wants India to be America’s “Strategic Partner”. He seems to have a good sense of humour. The UPA government seems determined to take the country for a ride. Neither Dr Manmohan Singh, nor Sonia Gandhi dares to travel round the country addressing public meetings. People do not matter. Power does. And holding on to it at any cost is now the UPA’s mantra. Some mantra, that . God save us from the government. The UPA government, that is.