The Ring Master

Monday, February 21, 2011

An honest man doesn't become an able leader by default. One of the biggest living examples of that has to be our Prime Minister. Manmohan Singh seems a bit too frail and powerless for a guy with a 20 year long political career (during which he never faced a public election) with stints as the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister of a country. He recently was on air to lay the onus of inept governance on coalition politics. He said that compulsions arising out of coalition politics had tied him down badly and were impeding his fight against corruption. All this came a CWG, Adarsh, IPL-Kochi fiasco, 2-G and Devas later!

The only 2-G I know of are Sonia G and Rahul G
Should we really believe him for what he says? Go back slightly in time to read what he had to say on rising food prices. The Government issued several deadlines for controlling prices only to admit later that they were no magicians. As grains rotted in granaries, the Government sat back on its asses jostling hard to fend off the corruption charges leveled against its ministers. The Supreme Court rapped the Government on issues of governance. This was something unheard of. Does all of that give us a reason to believe him or not believe him?

Even though the PM talked about bringing the corrupt to justice, it is anybody’s guess as to how the probe will unfold. The CBI acted against Kalmadi and his affiliates. In the crackdown CBI sent Darbari, a Kalmadi aide, to jail. They also quizzed Kalmadi to show that they meant business. A few months down the line, Darbari is out on bail because CBI failed to file a chargesheet and with new scams coming to the fore, the focus on CWG has shifted. Kalmadi may breathe easy for having braved the storm! Yes, he did lose some seat in the Congress Working Committee but that’s hardly a price to pay for the corruption that he was charged against. Making a mockery of the whole process, Kalmadi is even asking a JPC probe on CWG saying that he will “resign” if found guilty. Even if no one is able to prove his direct involvement in dealings, shouldn’t he be sent packing for his inept administration of the CWG?

Raja is the current flavor of the season. After trying all its might, when the Government couldn’t defend itself, it removed Raja from the Cabinet only to be replaced by a guy who declared that Raja was not guilty right after assuming office. Sibbal, the lawyer and wannabe education reformist, went on, in his own inimitable style, to give discourse on his ‘zero loss’ theory propounded at the behest of forces that may be. Poor Sibbal didn’t have an idea that his zero loss theory will raise the next logical question to which he will have no answer – “Why was Raja removed from office if he did not cause any loss as is believed?” If we believe what Sibal has got to say, doesn’t it imply that the PM is so weak that a whimsical demand from the opposition made him stutter and give in to their demand?

It’s probably true that Manmohan Singh is a man of values and tremendous grace. His intellect cannot be doubted given the fact that it was he who introduced India to globalization.But should that make us stand by his "I didn't know it, I can't help it" stance? The PM may have time and again said that he didn’t fear any inquiry as he had nothing to hide and that is the least that he should have done to come clean. But when you are leading a country, your personal transparency and honesty cannot make up for the lack of accountability you display in handling a team of people running an entire nation.
A Public Statement or a Public Sentiment!
The recent appearance of PM in a televised press conference to come clean is being projected by the Congress as a one of its kind show. They feel that the forthrightness of the PM in coming on TV without a mediator should send out a strong signal among the masses that are livid with the rise of corruption that the country has witnessed in the last one year or so. Singh’s - “We promise strict action against the guilty” stand that was described by the as “excellent, lucid, to the point, statesmanlike, candid and forthright” is at best only a statement.

The intent is not questionable, but the execution sure is. After all, didn’t the PM himself admit that he is tied down by the compulsions of running a coalition Government. As I write this, the Government has decided to annul the Devas contract and the JPC probe on 2-G scam is likely to be given a green signal.

Sitting in the present, we may question – Is it a good enough action to get rid of the corrupt image of our state?

History has an answer to that one and my fear is that the future will only reaffirm it!


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