Denigrating respected public offices and positions has been one of the most dubious records of the UPA government. The manner in which it is handling the date of birth controversy involving the Army Chief and the callousness with which it besmirched the image of our nation’s top scientists have not come as a surprise. After all, we have a Prime Minister who does not tire repeating that he would quit, the moment Rahul Gandhi so much as indicates he wants the chair. Meaning he is where he is only because of the pleasure of Sonia Gandhi and her son.
The issue of fixing the date of birth of the Army Chief, a decorated and much-respected officer has assumed proportions and colours that have dangerous portents for the country. Rumours on the reasons behind the government’s stubbornness to retire him this year indicate a well-entrenched conspiracy hatched by higher echelons years ago, to have ‘their man’ in the place. It may not be true but the fact remains that the people of the country are willing to believe such viciousness on the part of the government. The unprecedented number and amount of defence deals signed under the UPA are being linked with the controversy. It is being increasingly seen as V K Singh being too upright for the comfort of the deal-makers in and outside the government, especially the Congress Party. The helpless silence of the Prime Minister on the matter points to this. The Chief Commander of the forces in the country the President of India has shown remarkable indifference. It is in moments of crisis like this that the Head of the Nation should at least speak her mind to the government, in confidence.
Dr Madhavan Nair is an acclaimed scientist, who has delivered to the nation several landmark achievements in space technology. The success of the Chandrayan Mission was under his leadership. The ISRO team under him set a record of sorts by launching ten satellites at one go in April 2008. The government humiliated the scientist by issuing a public order debarring him and three other senior scientists from government positions. What a tragedy! Worse, the order does not give any reasons for the move and one is assuming that it has something to do with the aborted Devas-Antrix deal. As Madhavan Nair remarked, he was not even allowed the basic courtesy of explaining himself, a privilege given to anti-nationals and terrorists. The Prime Minister, under whom the ISRO comes, played blank when the controversy broke out. It is anybody’s guess if he is aware of the latest developments, though Madhavan Nair has sought redress from him. If the scientific community in the ISRO had committed an error of judgment, it needs to be rectified but that cannot take the form of personal whimsical indictment of people who served the nation well all their lives. And the PMO has to share the blame for any wrong doing. Clearly the government is looking for scapegoats.
The Prime Minister himself has brought down the prestige of his position by remaining a mute spectator to relentless loot by his cabinet ministers. He has also sat stiff over the public spat between two senior members of his team. The allies of the UPA have made covert and overt comments on his leadership. The internet is full of caricatures of his submissiveness to the extra constitutional authority of Sonia Gandhi. He is widely seen as a puppet with the strings held by her. Not once has the Prime Minister stood up to these sly observations. Stoicism in public life is good. But not when one’s honour is being sullied. That is why V K Singh and Dr Nair spoke up. And going by the public reaction, the nation is behind them.