Wednesday, October 17, 2007

HONOUR YOUR PAGRI DR MANMOHAN SINGH

Dr Manmohan Singh, when you were appointed the Prime Minister by Sonia Gandhi, who was forced to abdicate due to very strong opposition to her ascendancy, most right minded people in the country were relieved and delighted.

Despite the completely fractured mandate which found no group worthy of governing the country, India had got a scrupulously honest man of quiet dignity beyond compare to run this country. And an economist who had earlier displayed the vision and ability to break India free of the strong economic shackles to which it had been tied by Nehru, Indira Gandhi and the bureaucracy which had displayed an insatiable lust for increasing its own power and wealth at great cost to the country.

Soon, however, it was apparent that the democratic arithmetic was an indomitable shackle, which even you could not break. We accepted it as the price that had to be paid for the British pattern of democracy that our founding fathers had chosen for us. Little did they know then that such challenges would emerge later in a country comprising of many states, most bigger than that one tiny island England, whose model they copied, rendering effective governance virtually impossible.

When your government repeatedly succumbed to blatant, uncompromising blackmail from your allies in the name of coalition ‘Dharm’, the sheen of your leadership began to fade. Yet, with the economy galloping at an unprecedented pace, the warts did not appear so ugly.

Then came the Indo-US Nuclear Deal, the deal with which you ‘created history’; the deal which held out the promise of taking India into another orbit altogether of energy security and, more importantly, strategic strength befitting its size. You were rightly proud of your historic achievement, as were most sensible, knowledgeable Indians.

Unfortunately, our Left, for the umpteenth time, exhibited their penchant of mixing an already discarded economic ideology with extra national political affiliations, to the detriment of their own country's interest. One related example epitomizes this: They were silent when the Chinese exploded their first atomic bomb in 1964, but criticized their own country for doing so 24 full years later. This time, they argued against the higher cost of nuclear power generation and the hegemony of the US, to scuttle the exclusive deal that you secured for India, after much hard bargaining.

The real pain, Dr Manmohan, is not the Left, but the sad spectacle your own party men deserting you, after making aggressive noises in favour of the deal. Finding the Left uncompromising, they have dumped you with alacrity. For them and your allies too, saving themselves in government is more important than saving the deal which the country needs and may find difficult to secure later from the US. Enjoying the spoils of government is what many of them are in this business for, after all, and 20 months is too long a period to let go for a deal which brings them no personal benefit.

These colleagues of yours have also dexterously employed certain mediocre media personalities, who survive like many of them because of sold consciences, to bully you into accepting that saving the government is more important than saving the deal. Please don’t allow yourself to be so cowed down by this cacophony that is trying to make you blind to the fact that what they are asking for is really your honour, to further their own selfish, narrow interests.

You know only too well, Dr Manmohan that henceforth you will not be running the government till its term expires. Yet, while some will make hay and some will prepare the way for dynastic ascendancy, you will be the fall guy, the name on whom all the muck will stick, for all that will go wrong from now on. If you have thus far been accused of being a lame duck, what your colleagues are wanting will make you a legless, headless duck that they will finally cook for their dinner later.

Your gratitude to Mrs Sonia Gandhi for making you the Prime Minister is well appreciated. Like a man of honour, you have been repaying that debt to perfection. In fact, you have already more than paid for it. Now, that same sense of honour demands that you do not lend the legitimacy of your spotless name to the continuation of the farce that this government has been reduced to. You have survived and flowered, unsullied so far almost like the pristine lotus flower which stands tall in the midst of mud. That too is something that your colleagues and their ‘friends’ now want to pluck and trample upon, just so they can survive for a bit longer.

The Nuclear Deal is not the end of the world, as you have despondently said. But the way your party has surrendered and let you down, you are really left with little choice if you do not want to be swallowed by the mud, above which you have towered till now.

This time the call is the honour of your conscience,your Pagri, Dr Manmohan, and not the loyalty that has guided you thus far. What you decide now will determine how history will treat you. Don’t fail this one time, please.