Sonia Gandhi’s poor judgement of men and issues!

The Indian National Congress is 123 years old. There are only two other parties in the world, the German Democrati Socialist Party,135 years old and the British Labour Party, more than a century old.

While UK and Germany run their major political parties on highly democratic lines, the Congress Party has become more and more one person, one family centered.
This doesn’t give  much hope for a vibrant democratic polity.

Democratic processes undermined by political expediency. Democratic beliefs buried. Instead, the ruling party has become more one person-centered, the Prime Minister unelected. Since he is not a member of  the Lok Sabha, he has no interest in the active functioning of Parliament. There is a progressive decline in the number of says Parliament met, the lowest under Singh, and also the PM’s office has become a routine 9 to 5 job!

Already, the cracks are showing. Tackling of terrorism is poor, there is now for the first time a vocal demand for the Home Minister to go.

Sonia Gandhi neither seems to understand the  working  of the Indian democracy nor the Congress party is  run on any collective principles.

Indian mainstream party is not what the mainstream parties are in other countries. In UK, USA, even in France and Germany, not to speak of Russia and China. Each country reflects its past and recent history. The Indian National Congress,123 years old, has destroyed all its noble traditions, it has been turned into a coterie-type family retainers and sycophants.
No individual with any ideological strength and faith can be pointed out.
This is purposely suppressed and sycophants promoted.

Clearly, this is an unstable political situation.
In the states, the Congress ruled as well as where the Congress is in coalition, the central command is weak and contradictory. See the sheer helplessness of the party in a major state like TN.

So, there is almost sheer anarchy in  governance.
Governance norms need to be strengthened, Lok Pal, Lok Ayukta, overseeing the inner party elections and audit of party funds by the Election Commission, even new institutional mechanisms like popular referendums on major issues and even a US-type  primaries for the candidates for election by the constituencies could help to introduce more transparency in candidates selection and also strengthening the parties at the grass roots.

How faulty judgements have led to  a rise in terrorism and also to the fall in the standards of governance.

The Congress party is in the line of fire. The latest bomb blasts in the capital had only added to the woes of the government. There is a new chorus of sorts, this time orchestrated by none other than the redoubtable Lalu Prasad Yadav. Whenever Lalu Yadav opened his mouth, he was inviting mirth and laughter from his listeners. But this when he spoke out his mind on what needs to be done on the situation obtaining after the bomb blasts and the seemingly lack of speed in government response and the routine delay in response from the highest quarters, namely from the Prime Minister, Sonia Gandhi and more than all, from the particular ministry in charge of internal security, namely, the Home Ministry.
The Home Minister Mr. Shivraj Patil came under attack and Lalu Yadav almost hinted the need for ousting the Home Minister without saying it so and the people listening to Lalu seriously.

Once Lalu spoke out his mind, there was immediately a chorus of voices demanding the resignation of Mr.Patil.

Patil, otherwise a good man, had now been exposed for his utter lack of competence and what is more alarming, for his seemingly a careless leadership of his ministry. On a more personal note the media caught him red-handed ,so to say, for his rather inelegant exposure, the minister was found changing his suit on the evening after the blasts ripped off lives and many died and many more injured. Here is a Home Minister who was caught on TV  cameras, with different suits three times on three different TV interviews!

So, the message was rather grim.

Here is a Home Minister on whom Sonia Gandhi was so firm to make him the President of India! She was so firm and so stubborn that only in the last minute when the Left expressed firm opposition to a man who was defeated in the last general elections and yet he was elevated to such a crucial portfolio of Home and internal security and Sonia Gandhi’s flawed  judgement of men and affairs  was exposed for the first time for the public to take a look and a pot shot, as it were, as well.

In fact, in a series of high level decisions, Sonia Gandhi has now come to symbolise all that is a weakness in the governance of the country. Her own second option for the Presidential candidate also showed her inability to judge people and articulate her mind on such crucial offices like the President of India. Also, when it came to the Vice-President of Indian too ,she left her initiative to the whims of the Left who sought to impose a candidate on the ruling coalition. In the event, we see too many lightweights  and even the Prime Minister now stands exposed for various acts of commissions and commissions.

The government, even after the signing and getting clearance  from the NSG, doesnt look like a winner in any significant sense. There is no psychological victory in the country. The people at large don’t feel enthused by the government’s many claims.
There is no throbbing political activity in the country, the ruling combine, now left with the few allies, old and new,  like the DMK and  the Samajwadi Party don’t seem to be in an elated mood.

There is a sense of depression, the mood is rather confused and the future looks uncertain, though the Opposition is so weak and divided, as they are, the BJP is directionless, the BJP itself internally divided among various groups, around Narendra Modi and one or two others, ladies and gentlemen are too many inside the BJP to create enough demoralisation in the Prime Ministerial candidate, L.K.Advani who doesn’t know where to travel next, in his rath yatra of course! The BJP is a divided house, no doubt.

As for the Third Front is not yet born. It is utterly hopeless at present, with the two ladies, Mayawati and Jaya, driven by illusions  and hallucinations and therefore the otherwise decent men around them, namely Telegudesam party leader, Chandrababu Naidu and others like the CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat who have their own personal agendas and ambitions to look for.

In this rather confused state of affairs, so many otherwise decent men and decent leaders stand bereft of any coherent vision. A great pity. In today’s India we have leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav and Chandrababu Naidu and others men with enormous mass contact and mass appeal too. And given their vast experience, they could make great Prime Ministers.
In every state, we could compile a list of senior leaders from the Congress and other established parties men and women of unimpeachable character and commitment. But unfortunately, all these inherent talents are frozen by the lack of a democratic society, an open society giving rise to new aspirations and talents to flower and  contribute to the welfare and well-being of the society at large.

At root of the malaise lies the way the dominant national party, namely, the Congress had ceased to function as a collective force. It is so narrowly focused that there is a coterie, or rather so any coteries, that had converged around one person, namely, Sonia Gandhi and she in turn had become a captive of so many vested interests.

On September 13th,there was meeting of the top 200 odd  what is called as the “upper echelons” of the Congress leaderships gathered at the  Parliamentary House Annexe for a meeting of what was called an “extended Working Committee”.

What the “top echelon” leaders did? They did just the very predictable thing. They just endorsed the leadership of Mrs.Gandhi and then dispersed!

Did the Congress party worry about the second chance to govern the country? Yes, it did. But then it didn’t know how to go about it. The Congress party no more stands for any coherent set of principles. Is the Congress a liberal democratic party? A liberal social democratic party? Does the party articulate any set of values? Yes, in 2004, it sought to project Sonia’s “sacrifice” of the high office. But that no more sticks. You cant rule a country or hold a country like India’s diversity and complexity by mere gestures of sacrifice of office.

That sort of gestures don’t stick in the public mind for longer. The government must perform, deliver and must inspire and invigorate the mass of people into a vibrant force.
This is not just happening under Dr.Manmohan Singh’s  PMO.

He had provided a very lackluster leadership, to say the least.
He doesn’t look like a genuine leader! His visages, as we see our Prime Minister walking along the side of, say, the American President George Bush, makes us feel he gives us the picture of a  master-servant relationship only! The body language gives us only that impression.

Of course, it doesn’t matter whether you have a choice. But in a democracy, there must be choices. Choices for a natural leader to emerge.

What we have done  in India and that too what Sonia Gandhi in her wisdom has opted for an easy choice. A very submissive former bureaucrat, a life-long file pusher and he shows this in his new avatar as a prime minister. He is not  a real Prime Minister.
That is the trouble.

Now, after the Delhi blats, when the demand for the resignation of the home Minister became more audible within the Congress party itself, we see a new twist. The Home Minister is not eased out.

This is the ultimate rub. A government is not able to redeploy its leaders for competent assignments.

A new face, like when Lalu Prasad at the  Home Ministry would have galvanised the mood of the people. After all a minister ,that too a key ministry, must be seen to have become active and people must be assured of a new initiative.

But Sonia Gandhi is not able take decisions. She is vacillating. She had not applied her mind on so many appointments. The various Pradesh Congress Committees remain headless. They remain unconstituted. What is the message? A “don’t care” attitude? Or, then what else?
The selection of the Cabinet is entirely a Sonia Gandhi handiwork. See the various ministries h being handled by various ministers.

The Law Minister is there in his job for well over 25 years or more! Is this a democracy of a family rule?

The defence minister. Poor Mr.A.K.Antony, doesnt look a  defence minister! He goes to the USA and engages in conversation with his counterpart on highly complex and complicated defence relationships and co-operation. All these are highly demanding  exercises and poor Antony  is burdened with his assignment.

So too other ministries.
We can compile a list to show that how Sonia’s personal favourites, all those who hover around her home, are poor performers as in key assignments.

One thought that comes to mind is that in politics you cant be an idle player. You cant just hang on to office and wish you will be there for all time. This is moreover a democracy. Even the most powerful of persons like Indira Gandhi had to pay a heavy price for her highhanded behaviour, Emergency exposed her, then came the electoral defeat and also much other shames, finally she faced the more tragic end.

Dictators we know face this sort of abrupt ends. In democracy too, unless you are wise enough when to call it a day, you p dearly. So, wisemen and women call it a day when the time comes or the times force them. We can name names. In the West as well as in Asia, near our own neighbourhood.

All this is to warn and  forewarn that the time is ripe in India for Sonia Gandhi and her advisers, the Congress Working Committee to change the guards at the helms at critical ministries.

Yes, there is of course the more deeper and fundamental tasks. To spell out the basic ideological beliefs of the Congressmen. There is a superficial shallow advocacy of liberalisation of the economy. But then are we creating a liberal, open society? Has anybody say to us?

Where is the basic Gandhi-Nehru premises? The fearless and a self-confident nation?
Who would allay the fears that are creeping, rationally or irrationally, about India getting deeper into the long-term strategies and clutches of the American tight embrace?
Can we trust our present crop of men  and women at the helm as to the long-term vision for India? A confident and a fiercely independent nation with an independent or non-aligned state of  a great regional power?

Who can articulate this vision? I am sure the whole country would endorse my belief and conviction that Dr.Manmohan Singh is not the man to do this task, right?
Then, who else?

Time has come for India and the Indians to self-question themselves as to the long-term existence of India. India was never a free country, a single country, before Independence came, just sixty years ago. Will India remain a single and united by some deeper purpose and emotional bonds, a country with a certain future? Who can answer this question?
I would only opt for one who is capable of asking these questions, without fear or illusion and also who is capable of articulating a suitable response only must be entrusted with the job of leading the country from the front!  

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