Monday, October 7, 2013
It has been staring us in the face and we never saw it. All the ills of our beloved country can be cured by simply reconstituting the top leadership structure. Something along the following lines. The Union Cabinet to consist of Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Robert Vadra. The party high command to comprise Sonia Gandhi, Robert Vadra, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi. The Supreme Court to be made up of Priyanka Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Robert Vadra. Television anchorship to be restricted to Robert Vadra, Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Newspaper columnists to be annihilated and replaced by Rahul Gandhi, Robert Vadra, Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi. An India so reorganised will be sumangalam, subhadram, sushobhanam, helping us all to live happily ever after.
The great virtue of such a setup is that neither indiscretion nor even crimes will call for any regret. The whole country found fault with the manner in which Rahul Gandhi condemned the Cabinet-approved ordinance to protect convicted MPs. Was there any regret on his part? His only concession was to say that the words he used might not have been right. Was belittling the Prime Minister of the country right? That too when he was abroad? Was it right to make the Core Committee that approved the ordinance look like a bunch of fools? That too when his mother was in the committee? Clearly he did not face such questions, not because his wrong words expressed the right sentiments as his apologists pointed out, but because his parentage put him above common political decencies.
Indeed, we must ask whether he was at all identifying himself with the people's feelings against the ordinance. Or was he being part of an old Congress trick? In 1986 the Government announced, amid widespread public protests, a steep increase in petrol prices. Rajiv Gandhi presided over the Cabinet meeting that took the decision. Immediately after the announcement the same Rajiv Gandhi presided over a Congress Working Committee meeting which criticised the decision on petrol prices. It recommended reducing the price increase by half in order to "reduce the burden on the masses". There was some applause for the Government and the Congress.
Unfortunately what the increase-then-decrease petrol price trick could do in 1980s could not be repeated by the approve-then-withdraw ordinance trick in 2013. The days of innocence were gone thanks to a series of historic landmarks from Commonwealth Games to 2G spectrum to coal fields. That is why Rahul Gandhi who boldly aired public feelings over the ordinance will not air public feelings over the coal fields allocation files that went missing. He will not air popular feelings even on non-political irregularities like IAS-IPS officers getting the right to go abroad for medical treatment at tax-payers' expense.
Actually, the negativism of dynasty politics casts a shadow even on positive developments. In the normal course, the imprisonment of Lalu Prasad Yadav and Rasheed Masood should have been an occasion for rejoicing. For it reassured us that even high-profile leaders could be brought to justice long years after their crimes. But punishment has meaning only when the punished understand that there are things that cannot be legally done. That is not the case here. Masood said, " I am innocent, hundred percent innocent". Lalu also proclaimed innocence, his son saying that the family did not expect justice from the lower court and would now appeal.
These are men who descended to abominable levels of corruption. As Chief Minister Lalu Yadav plundered his own treasury with fake bills and fake allotment letters. Masood became Union Health Minister for a while and promptly proceeded to allot to his handpicked candidates MBBS seats meant for Tripura students. This is what they all do when they get a bit of power. And all of them -- from Suresh Kalmadi to A. Raja, Omprakash Chautala to Janardhan Reddy, Pawan Bansal to Ashwini Kumar -- they all say they are one hundred percent innocent. Asaram Bapu is also one hundred percent innocent. Presumably, only the people are one hundred percent guilty.