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Sonia as saviour

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05-12-2013
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SONIA AS SAVIOUR

By Prem Chandran

Overnight, Sonia Gandhi has acquired a new aura of an anti-corruption crusader – and this, by a mix of drama and sycophancy. Now all praise is on her, the saviour, for the exit of two “tainted” ministers – one who presided over the railway ministry and the other the law ministry. Sonia, we are told, does not brook the scent of corruption. So much so, the anti-corruption movement in the country has now got a new saviour. In other words, Sonia is in; Anna Hazare, Aravind Khejriwal, and the rest of the crusaders, are out!

What did Sonia Gandhi do? She made a much-publicized sojourn to the PMO, and told Manmohan Singh enough was enough. “Drive ’em out.” And out went Pavan Kumar Bansal and Ashwani Kumar, for whom, word had gotten around, the PM had a soft corner. After all, the two happened to be from Punjab, the base also of Manmohan Singh.

A question is, was it really that the PM was shielding the two, or whether he was waiting for the ‘final word’ either way from his “boss”, who, we know, might be the “ultimate authority.” Can PM take an independent decision, given the scenario the things in the seat of power are seen to be in the past few years? He might have had a soft corner for the two “tainted” colleagues, but that’s immaterial, either way. Chances were that he waited for the Congress bosses to tell him as to what to do. Or, he waited for orders as we presume. And, the signals that came from the Congress leadership were loud and clear. No action against the two for now; we’ll wait and watch.

And, by now, the scenario has reached such a pass, with more skeletons tumbling out of the Bansal family cupboard, and there was no sympathy left for Ashwani Kumar over what he did: namely seeking to manipulate a report into the Coalgate, which drew harsh comments from none other than the Supreme Court. And, by now, it was also that a down and out Congress leadership in Delhi, caught as it was in a series of large-scale corruption cases, suddenly got a fresh lease of life in the form of the Karnataka assembly poll results. Though there was no surprise to a Congress victory there, it clearly gave the top Congress brass a new sense of confidence. People there still preferred the Congress, and dumped its main rival, the BJP.

It is logical to suspect this was the backdrop for the drama that the Congress has enacted on Friday before a seemingly captive PM, when its chief, Sonia Gandhi, went right upto him, in full media glare, and got the word spread that the two ministers would be shown the door. A question that begs answer is, was there a real need for the Congress chief to go up to the PMO, when just a phone call from, say, Ahmed Patel to Manmohan Singh would have served the purpose? But, then, without drama, where is politics today?

In the process, if a largely loyal Manmohan Singh cut a sorry figure, we can only feel sorry for him. That is the price one pays for being in politics, a treacherous field that has increasingly become alien to men of dignity. One might also suspect whether the PM’s assertion that he would neither say yes nor no to the possibility of a third term for him, has not been taken kindly by the Congress leadership, though it never fails to keep swearing by him off and on.

And, now, the sycophancy factor. That the “Paid Puppies” in the media are going out of the way to project the "Sonia, the Saviour” factor is all too evident. Without their generous help, both Sonia Gandhi and the Congress party would still have been languishing in the sidelines, as far as people’s perceptions are concerned of them being largely a party to the massive spread of corruption in this country. The media would have us, the people, believe that but for Sonia Gandhi’s intervention, the “tainted” ministers would have continued to be part of the governmental system. Sonia Gandhi, we are told, saved the nation from an ugly situation.

But for her, where would this nation be? So, the overdrive now is not to expose the misdeeds in governance, but to hammer home the point that here was a leadership for the Congress that’s hell bent on checking corruption – and not fanning corruption. Also, the media reporting is worth a watch: such is it that some of these men would have us believe, for one, that Pavan Kumar Bansal was in trouble because his (wayward) “nephew tried to pocket some money” from a railway official! Rather, the issue before the media, we expect, should have been to seek and find out whether this money trail would go beyond the Bansals, and right upto the Congress kitty?

Coming back to the Karnataka elections, was it really a vote for the Congress? There’s nothing yet to suggest the people in Karnataka are enamoured of the party, though there is every indication they were fed up with the BJP rule, which was marred by a series of corruption scandals, with Yeddiyurappa right in the middle of all that. It clearly was not just a case of an anti-incumbency factor at work. Nor was the corruption the only issue at stake. Had it been so, are the people so foolish enough to vote the Congress in, that too so close to the eruption of the Bansal scandal in Delhi, the 2G, the Coalgate et al?

That the BJP had got its calculations wrong in Karnataka was not a new realization. When the party banked on Yeddiyurappa for years to keep its flag fly high there, the crafty leader cleverly developed a nexus with his own community -- just as BJP leaders from the community did in the past too-- for it to both prop up the party and himself. That turned out to be his strong point, and the BJP’s undoing. So, when he ultimately broke away from the party, the party lost its main base. The BJP, thus, had no go other than fall in the grave it had dug for itself.

Add to this the minority factor that was at work in at least select areas in the state, and also possibly in areas where Narendra Modi briefly campaigned, as here was an opportunity to flex the minority muscle and put Modi on the defensive vis-*-vis his national ambitions.The failure of the central BJP leadership to sort out the issues in Karnataka and turn the tide in its favour was stark. There indeed was enough time to fix Yeddiyurappa, one way or the other, but he was given a long rope. The weaknesses of the BJP at the top level were reflected in no small measure in Karnataka in the past couple of years, though this has been the case elsewhere too.

How much money was illicitly pumped into the Karnataka polls, for booking slum votes, is not clear; but there is little doubt money too played a part in the polls. --premcee@gmail.com

Last edited by Premchandran; 05-24-2013 at 11:50 PM
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