High Constitutional Authorities devalued!
All Constitutional proprieties bypassed!
All for whom? In whose interest? Such questions come at once when we see how steadily and unmistakably our great Constitution is being subverted from inside the very system.
Prime Minister downsized and almost insulted by his senior colleagues! We have reached a stage in our political evolution that now ,under Sonia Gandhi’s ;leadership of the Congress party and the UPA alliance as it is being “managed” there are every indication that very soon India might learn to live with some basic distortions and even in the process we might even change the basic structure of our Constitution. Such is the rapid downhill we are going.
Take certain examples. The Prime Minister is being insulted and of course it is for him to stomach the insults if it suits him well. One can understand an Opposition leader, L.K.Advani called him the “weakest Prime Minister Independent India had had”. This is of course is not an insult as such. In a democracy, the Opposition has the right to criticise and comment on the government. But this is the extreme criticism, questioning the very office of the Prime Minister as somewhat illegitimate. There are also sound reasons. First, the Prime Minister was never elected properly to the Lok Sabha. He should have got himself elected even after he became the Prime Minister. This, he didn’t do. Neither the party that chose him thought it fit. May be, as there rumours, the party didn’t want the Prime Minister become stronger than what he is capable of. So, the party chose to keep the PM as an unelected man, even though the Pm didn’t improve his image by declaring in so many ways that he got “elected” to the Rajya Sabha from Assam! In fact, this “election” is a bogus manipulation, everyone knows it and the very way the PM explained his legitimacy by showing the payments of rent and electricity bills and always keeping them in his “pocket” made him an object of some ridicule. But then the Pm didn’t see himself as a ridiculed person. That is Manmohan Singh’s strengths and limitations!
Manmohan Singh is an unusual person as he is also the “lucky” man, in the Indian spirit of luck! He is the quintessential bureaucrat, he got his degrees from Cambridge and Oxford, impeccable thought they are and yet he didn’t choose to become an academic or an intellectual. Nor in the past many Oxbridge educated Indians became intellectuals ,they chose to become ICS officials and stay in the jobs till they retired and also earned reputation as writers or intellectuals as such. In Dr.Singh’s case he is neither an ICS or a writer or an intellectual. Though popular myth is perpetuated that he is a very learned man, a “Doc”, as he is often referred to in the obliging press.
Here is a PM who is neither known for any of his articulated views on any known subject. In public, he is supposed to be an economic expert, may be he is good at managing the econo0mic parameters of the economy.
But as the PM, he is a great let-down. He doesn’t speak out his mind at all. He doesn’t choose to articulate on any major policies. Even the much-hyped Indo-US nuclear deal proved Dr.Singh’s vulnerabilities. He had gone overboard and praised George Bush sky-high when the US President is widely seen as a great liability to the free world by his actions in Iraq and elsewhere. So, when he found himself isolated on the nuclear deal, Dr.Singh didn’t get any supporters inside India, not just inside the Congress party.
So, he stands alone and uncared for and it is at the fag end of his tenure, on the eve of general elections, his colleague, the most manipulative and blatantly so, Arjun Singh came out in support of Rahul as the next Prime Minister! The most telling comment is that everyone, Sharad Pawar, M.Karunanidhi and Pranab Mukerjee, all known for their own manipulative skills endorsed the case of the young Gandhi.
This is to discredit the PM so ruthlessly and with no pity for his status or his sentiments!
So, Prime Minister under our Constitution today has become or made a caricature. This is one of the grossest distortions of our polity.
The next best example is the President’s office. Once it commanded an aura of great stature for the entire country and a moral authority. Not anymore. Our President touring foreign countries is fine but just now we see so much that is not giving our country’s standing in the world added credit.
Next in the scheme of things is the judiciary. The other day the PM and the Chief Justice of India jointly attended a conference of chief ministers and high court chief justices. The PM spoke about speedy disposal of cases and referred to corruption in the government and the judiciary. In the speech of the CJI, in a press conference soon aftrerwards, said the PM only referred to corruption in the government. A leading newspaper gave the headline: “Judge sidesteps PM”! The message is clear.
People will know well that both the PM and the CJI have bypassed or both “sidestepped” the more public concern over the rising corruption in both the government, not just administration but in the higher levels of politicians as well as in the judiciary. The recent spat between the individual citizens who fought for exposing corruption in judiciary and the latest spat between the Lok Sabha Speaker and the CJI over the right of the citizens under the RTI act to seek information about the judiciary.
Yes, let us lay down the basic principle of the peoples’ right to know and seek information from all branches of the government, this includes the judiciary also. Why not?
Here too the political leadership in the office of the Prime Minister must give leadership. The PM must be a person of great imagination, if not vision but at least some basic common sense. Whenever there is a larger principle in involved, the Prime Minister must rise to the occasion. Now, we see a curious reverse of the case! Whenever there arise issues of high principle, the highest Constitutional functionary ducks for cover!
Surely, the Indian political system is coming under strain and let us not be foolhardy enough just to dust it under the carpet!
As I write these lines, I read the column of a senior columnist, Pran Chopra on the Maoists in Nepal. In so many words he brings out the message that the word “Maoists” once being a word of honour, then abuse and now again some prestige after the Nepal Maoists won a democratic election. The message for India and other neighbours, as articulated by the columnist is: “Maoists” one day might also gain currency in the neighbourhood, may be in small neighbours but the challenge for Indian states, especially for areas where indigenous factors might trigger a preference for Maoists in preference for the Marxists/Communist parties!
Anyway, the ideological issues for the Indian polity as it is evolving with too many opportunistic alliances, made and unmade and every election is becoming a more opportunistic co-habitation and in the process more tolerance of more undermining of the basic institutions of governance, from the misuse of agencies like CBI and now even the intelligence wings etc, all to sub serve self-interests and settle scores with the potential threats from other parties.
This one perception, I consider, to be the single most potential threat to our basic character of our polity. As I see it, this threat or the threat perception can be ganged neither by Manmohan Singh nor by Sonia Gandhi. This calls for wider introspection at many levels.
And in such an important meeting the Pm didn’t even mention any of the major steps of the government. He seems to be uttering words and sentences that suit that moment only. The PM must have been rather candid about what the problem is and what needs to be done. Lok Pal Bill is pending for ages and the Pm didn’t dare to mention it even! He knew well how many of his own colleagues are “tainted”! So, how does he dare to speak on the subject. We the people are supposed to keep our mouth shut and just listen to what the dignitaries say on the public platform and then just forget the whole thing!
There are so many disturbing developments. The law minister was sitting by the side in the same conference and we have here a law minister who is a law minister for more than a quarter of a century! In the same job! Is he a genius? Is there no talent in the country?
Only those who know the inside of the New Delhi politics and the politics of the dynasty, would know how the whole exercise of power in our democracy is internally being sabotaged.
The least but not the last is the current developments in the Sonia Gandhi family. First ,Rahul Gandhi taking over as the next Prime Minister. The way the whole exercise is being carried out is undesirable, to say the least. The Youngman must learn much and the years are on his side. Second, the role of Priyanka Gandhi in the recent meeting with Rajiv Gandhi assassin. The whole exercise is highly illegal, to say the least. If it was a private matter of one’s private feelings and beliefs, then it is none of the business of the public. But here we see so many unnecessary manipulations, violation of the laws and also setting a dangerous precedent for others to sabotage the whole system of the administration of justice under the Constitution. Someone has to file a PIL to bring some clarity to what is involved in the laws.
There are so many distortions in the economy, polity and in the education system, the very plight of the farm sector and the continuing suicides and the misery of the people in the poor segments.
The Prime Minister doesn’t lend any prestige to whatever he does or seem to do. In the domestic arena there is much to be done, new infinitives needed. In the foreign policy front India’s standing in the world is not high. No major country seems to count India in the scheme of things, the point is we, and India doesn’t seem to have ideas to contribute to make the world a more dependable place for the people to live.
Engaging China is a greater challenge, as I see. Engaging the USA as an ally is easier than engaging China. Also to cultivate Russia we need a new set of thinking and policy priorities.
As it is, the PM seems to have left the business of our foreign policy to his intelligence agency and the bureaucrats. This is fine but not enough. Here also I see a leadership vacuum.
The PM has no stomach for new talents. He seems to be comfortable to settle with retired bureaucrats. But please, remember. There is no alternative to fresh and new talents. Summon up courage and call for the new achievers in different fields. Dont yield too much for the marauders of private capital to grow your economy! We, the people, collectively share a vision for dispersed growth, of economy and the many talent pools.