FRUITS OF YEARS NINE-TEARS FROM ONION
Mr. Prime Minister! As a citizen of India that suffered along with a billion people from your lack of governance or bad governance, I loathe to address you so! But your post is a constitutional one and I bow to the Constitution and address you, Mr. Prime Minister! We belong to the same generation where veneration for age had been order of the day! Hence, I pay my respects to your age. But, in the same vein I recall what Vishnu Sharma said in Panchatantra, “The one whose erudition serves society is old; not the one who attains age”. “So, be it!”, to repeat what you said in the heat of nuclear bill debate in 2009. Your enigmatic silence of the past nine years on serious issues facing the nation only added to my anathema of a system in which I lived for most part of which you lived. The abhorrence towards your rule spread like a malaise in my mind that now I feel repugnance even for the most revered PM, Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao, for choosing you as Finance Minister in 1991.
You were never elected to the Lok Sabha through people's mandate. You never tried but for once. You preferred to get elected to the Upper House, not from your State but from an alien State, where you are not resident. The legal or constitutional niceties apart, morally you stand on a low pedestal. You should be beacon light of morality to the citizens of the nation. Instead you chose a route that is not morally unquestionable to continue in PM post. Politically or legally you might be right, but morally not.
To say that you failed the nation is stating the obvious. That you failed yourself more, is ' a hidden fact behind the veil of your honest visage". Knowing fully well that your political masters were upstaging you at every stage you failed to act to protect your image as an honest gentleman. You failed to act as it was not in your control. You could have reacted that was very well in your mindset. When we don't know the reason why you didn't react, we fail to reason the truth behind your failure. So we surmise that you were not weak but were ambitious. Unless a contrary argument is advanced by you, the nation believes it as 'absolute truth'. It is one reason why your popularity ratings are on down slide. This was once again obvious when you chose to be silent when your own defense minister flawed in his judgment of Pakistan's intentions in the LOC killings. Your silence and your purported persistence to talk to the Pakistan PM, does not show your weakness but something else that the nation wants to know. Why you choose to barter nation's prestige for your self image is a question unanswered. Do you want a reenactment of the Nuclear Bill drama of 2009 to make up your lost image for a third term? (God save the nation!) The nation wants answers.
From your biography, we know that you were highly educated, as many in India were and are. You served as RBI Governor, Chief economic adviser and Planning Commission head. But during those tenures you never were heard as saying or doing anything to improve the economy. It is only under the visionary leadership of Sri P.V.Narasimha Rao that you took steps to revive the fortunes of a sagging economy. I read somewhere that you were not the first choice as FM. When someone refused the offer due to age, you accepted it. (I can not vouch for veracity) The feat was repeated in 2004, when someone refused and you took over. In a nutshell you acted as his Master's Voice like a true bureaucrat, though honest to the core unlike many others. I take it, then, that this is the reason why the single headed Congress High command chose you as PM, not with any high hopes for the country, but for your loyalty and silence. You lived up to their expectations. In 1966 after Sri L.B. Shastry's death a syndicate enacted the same drama to anoint Smt. Indira Gandhi, in whom they saw a weak woman (as India treated women over ages) not a Shakthi. She came out of their shadows, crushed them so much so that she divided the party against one of the syndicate members becoming President of India. We bow to her, but we pity you as you could do nothing of the sort. It speaks volumes.
The high drama that preceded your anointment (or is it appointment) is fresh in memory of everybody and need not be recollected. People thought you were a lesser evil and settled for that. Alas! What happened later stunned the nation. Your regular jaunts to the 10 Janpath came as a rude shock. “Who is leading?”, they asked. You proved after nine years you never led but were led by an invisible force. 'I will rule hell than be ruled in Heaven” was a famous dictum. You preferred to be ruled in the Heaven handed over to you by Sri A.B.Vajpayee, made it hell and are still being ruled by an invisible Hand supported by pseudo intellectuals and noble Nobel winners. The result is for everybody to see. Not going through nuances of each decision, let us weigh the overall impact on the nation of your governance, non-governance or mis-governance.
That India was shining when you took over is a fact. This is more apparent after your nine year rule. Without going through your manifesto and breaking heads on what promises you kept or not, let us analyze what you did to derail the psyche of common man. Reading manifestos is duty of politicians. They are no better than the letter written by your leader and mentor to UP CM. in Durga Shakthi case. Let me start with your public image. You never spoke to people directly despite mounting crises and despite availability of 24x7 media and ever obliging journos. You never addressed impromptu press conferences nor answered any question by the media extempore. You addressed media mid air more times than on the the proud Indian soil. You never preferred to intervene in parliament debates despite turmoil and chaos and frequent adjournments. Your mentor is seen thumping desks at least or waving fingers. Instead you chose to blame communists and communal elements for disruption, after the session is adjourned sine die. You never preferred to pull up ministers, congress spokespersons or other leaders for their controversial statements. Instead you gave a feeling that you were not in charge. The somebody you expected to lead us from the back never spoke too. We only hear from people whom she meets in her house of what she might have said or not said. It is like the “divine clothes and the king”. You never addressed international issues through press conferences or an address to people. When economy looked up, thanks to legacy of NDA, in your first five year rule you took all the credit. When it started declining, thanks to your own misrule, you blamed opposition and global crises. You feigned that you came out of the shadow of your mentor by reducing visits to her but you preferred to keep silent on all ills in the party instead of taking the leadership head on. You gave an impression that you prefer to retain the chair to caring for welfare of the hapless billion people. But at the same time you preferred to project to the leadership that you were ever loyal by stating time and again,”Rahul can enter my shoes any time”. Despite your decades long public career your loyalty blinded your vision. In a democracy none's shoes are passed on to any other on the whims of the ruler. This fact was lost upon your statesmanship.
On Telangana issue, nobody knows till date what you think. The state is burning. Government should intervene. But you allowed the ruling party to appoint a Committee. When a state is burning with rage, you sit stoic amid chaos. On food security bill your attitude is confusing. How did you allow the ordinance go through cabinet? What could you achieve in a month's time what you could not for four years? We are lost totally, Mr. Prime Minister! The nation lost heavily.
Your public image spoiled the body politic as much as the ineptness, the indifference and casual approach you preferred to employ in governance. When investigating agencies were misused by your party for partisan ends you were silent like a rock. They were under your control, you forgot. When Pakistan Army was killing our Jawans by crossing LOC you seemed not knowing it by keeping a Sphinx like silence. When your ministers gave wrong information to public you seemed to project it was not your cup of tea. When growth rate started declining you said your priority was containing inflation. When inflation started signs of increasing you said people had to make sacrifices for growth to pick up. When growth rate declined and inflation increased you switched to your old rhetoric of blaming opposition or global forces. When global economy showed signs of stability you are hiding your head like an “ostrich does when storm brews”. When Rupee started falling sharply you preferred silence. Your agile Finance Minister gave a realistic value of Rs.59/- per dollar and the next day it touched Rs.61.80 per dollar. You never seemed to care to see if any major players were speculating or manipulating the currency. The volatility suggests more of this than the fall itself. You gave an impression, “how many issues a PM can address?” and ended in not addressing even one. On CAD or Fiscal Deficit your refrain is more alarming.
That on economic front you failed is a fact of life. We might suffer for the next two generations if you are reelected. On internal security front your record is no better. Series of bomb blasts rocked the nation and you stuck to your stale statement “It is a timid act” and people are confused who the timid are. Or when your party people put the blame at the door steps of Khkhi Chaddi men or 2002 riots you show a wry smile on your face. I personally feel that you are happy if the blame is not at your door step. Let the country suffer, you are safe as if acquiescing to their view. On international relations your performance smacks of incompetence. Your China policy is flawed. Your Pakistan diplomacy is jinxed. Your Sri Lanka cauldron is ever boiling. Your approach to US is ambiguous. Russia went out of your radar. Your reaction to the incidents in the Middle East is muted. When British immigration policies turned detrimental to the youth of the nation you made no overt diplomatic effort to reduce the impact. Your ineptness in dealing with the refugees from Bangladesh or Mayanmar is certain to have long term consequences on an already splintered nation. You seem to be playing the 'vote bank' cards of your political bosses.
The worst part of your rule is the series of scams that rocked the nation. During mounting criticism on that front and on corruption, you tried to stem the tide by firing loose canons on your critiques. Or you allowed your party members to ridicule the institutional heads who brought out the rot to public notice. You tried to subvert the system by allowing your ministers and party head managing the investigating agencies that the SC had to observe with heavy heart that they became “caged parrots” of the system. You were unmoved. When Adarsh scam broke out you wanted to reverse the blame on NDA. When CWG broke out you said the games were given go ahead by NDA. When Spectrum scam broke out you dug old files to prove, it was in fact, NDA that framed the rules and your government only misused them. In all the cases your common refrain was “Law will take its own course”. Even common man knows it. It does not require a PM to state that. You appointed JPCs. Nothing happened. Till now none was punished in any of these cases. They are taking their own course.
That apart a bigger scam broke out, this time in the Ministry headed by you. First you denied existence of scam. When reality dawned on nation you denied any kind of role. When role was talked about you said you were not in the “know” of things. By the time it came out that you were in the loop, you dug the files and put the blame on NDA. This simply proves that all that happened was for a cause. The cause was known to you. You kept silent because of fear of loss of the chair that painstakingly comes to many but came your way on a platter. Now, the nation is paying and it will pay more if the country turns a blind eye to this bare reality.
Now, you can question us. If we were so bad why were we reelected? In 2004 you rode on the shoulders of allies and though getting less than 30% vote share rode to power. In 2009, you scored high in two or three states where corruption was rampant and public money was squandered on Schemes that ate into ex-chequer and where your adversaries were weak and you could enact a high drama on the Nuclear Bill and thanks to the ever self-defeating communists. Then too you shared power with allies. You shared not only power with them, but you allowed them free hand in the various scams that rocked the nation. You never showed any sincerity in punishing the guilty. Instead you obliged your insatiable leadership by rewarding one of the politicians charged in 2G case, as RS member.
During the whole of nine years the 'veil' of honesty secured your honor and your power. But each day as the Sun rises in the morning, it is dawning on the people that the real face is different. The mask is being unmasked. By election time it is certain the mask will fall off and the ever ambitious but indifferent leader will come out into the open.