Monday, May 13, 2013

What is good for the High Command? What is good for the Country?

Believe it or not, some analysts in Karnataka publicly attributed the Congress victory in the state to Rahul Gandhi's campaign speeches. Narendra modi was all bombast, they said, while Rahul asked people about their problems and promised to redress them, thereby winning their votes.

This is the tragedy of the Congress, and by extension, the country. If the party had fared poorly in the election, the blame would have been put squarely on the local leaders. In victory, all credit goes to the High Command. Because of this Congress culture, we should not be overly optimistic about the state's new Congress Government. Its priority may not be to understand the public mood or to provide good governance but, as always, to please the High Command.

What indeed pleases the High Command? According to public perception, what is good for the High Command is what pleases the High Command, and what is good for the High Command is different from what is good for the country. This perception did not drop from the sky one fine morning. It grew over the years as the people watched the High Command's actions, inactions and non-actions. It grew as an offshoot of the harvest of scams in the last couple of decades and the High Command's responses to them.

The common factor in all the scams was that the Congress establishment including the Government made no serious effort to punish the guilty. On the contrary, it made every effort to let the guilty go free. The most notorious example was Ottavio Quattrochi. Despite a spectrum of evidence pointing to this Italian middleman's role in clinching the Bofors gun deal and commissions thereof, union ministers helped him escape to Malaysia. Then Indian investigative agencies disgraced themselves by contriving to lose cases against him in foreign courts. Finally India ensured that all cases against him were withdrawn and his frozen bank accounts released to him. Never did a deal-maker receive such privileged protection as Quattrochi did. The people of India saw him as part of the High Command.

Because the early scams found the Government shielding the scamsters, other more daring scams followed. The Government tried to protect the culprits in each of them. Since the Government is a creature of the High Command, the needle of suspicion in every scam pointed to the High Command. Initially politeness had prevented names being named when it came to the High Command. By the time the 2G spectrum, the coal allocation, the abuse of the CBI and the Railway Board bribery cases raised unprecedented stink in the country, the High Command's hand in high-level corruption began to be openly discussed.

How else could it be? How could the Law Minister and Railway Minister do what they did without the knowledge of their protectors? The Ashwani Kumars and the Pawan Bansals are soapy hangers-on who rose in politics only as cogs in the High Command's wheel.

The malfunctioning cogs generated as much dirt as possible. Then they were broken off and cast away, the credit of course going to Sonia Gandhi, in a replay of the Karnataka credit Rahul got. So what was she doing for seven days when those evil ministers were covering up their tracks? More likely, it was the CBI and the Supreme Court that brought about the ouster of the sinners -- the CBI by unearthing scandalous details about the Bansal family's excesses, and the Supreme Court by issuing a warning to the Government. Bring in legislation ensuring the independence of the CBI, the "caged parrot", it said, or face the Court taking action on its own.

That was when resignations -- or shall we say, dismissals -- should have taken place if democratic decencies were at work. The public could see why no such thing happened. Nothing happens unless the High Command moves because the High Command's finger is in every pie. Karnataka leader Siddaramaiah meant well when he inadvertently said after his election victory: " I wish to thank Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Gandhi". Spot on.