Friday, January 19, 2007

More blundering - The PM never learns.

jan 19th, 2007

this PM is the worst in the last 60 years. a minoritism bigot as well as ready to cave in to anybody -- the yanks, the chinese, and the pakistanis.

i have heard that he still draws a pension from the world bank. if true, where do his real loyalties lie, other than at the feet of the dynasty?

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Yash

More blundering - The PM never learns
 
16 January 2007: The Congress party and the government, in particular the Congress leadership and the PMO, have settled to a position of having a strange relationship. The Congress party exists in name. In fact, it is the Congress leadership, in the person of Sonia Gandhi, that is the party. This fact, you may say, is old and well known. It is. Nevertheless, it is strange for a party which is more than a hundred years' old to become a ghost of its former self, and become identified entirely and solely with its Gandhi family leader, Sonia. The party structure in its offices in Delhi and elsewhere is a front. Sonia decides. When she won't decide, or cannot decide, or has no advisors she can trust on a decision to be taken, none is taken.

In effect, the relationship between the party leadership and the government, the PMO, is one of cultivated laissez-faire. Whatever else the party and its leadership do or not – and on current evidence, very little is done – with the government, Sonia Gandhi has a hands-off relationship. The intimately political areas the government avoids. The PM is scared of anything political. But in government matters, Sonia Gandhi generally lets Manmohan Singh & Co set the agenda. This, at any rate, is what appears on the outside. We don't have moles inside 10, Janpath who report otherwise.

This is not per se bad, Sonia's hands-off approach to government matters. Perhaps, it is the result of all the earlier criticism of her interference, when she also headed the National Advisory Council. The problem is – and politics is always complicated – as little as Sonia knows about this country despite decades of residence, the PM knows only a little more. Sure, he is a decent economic administrator, who is identified with the reforms of the early Nineties. But that does not mean he has understanding of this country and its political, societal and national security interests. Nor is he steeped in historical knowledge of this country as some senior Congressmen are.

What this means is that whenever the PM steps out of the grid, and sets out to chart his own political or national security or foreign policy course, he blunders. In all honesty, can Manmohan Singh, Shyam Saran and the rest of the nuke pro-dealers say they were on the right negotiating track with the United States? How calamitous it would have been if the BJP, the Left, but especially the nuclear scientists had not raised a storm of protest against the government's ill-considered commitments to the US?

Is it possible that no one in the Congress party knew the terrible dangers we were courting with the deal as it is? It is impossible. The Congress party has several exceptionally bright and experienced persons who would have smelt out the deal for the sell-out it is. Why didn't they speak out? Because the PM had sewed up the Congress leadership. When the opposition became too strong, he and the Congress leadership had to backtrack.

Turn to the Indo-Pakistan peace process. The PM has been bitten by the history bug. He has presumably sold a line to the Congress leadership that a J and K deal with Pakistan could be encashed by the party in any election. The UP election is around the corner. General elections are due in 2009, but that is still far. Trouble is, and we have published before, Muslim voters are psychologically disconnected from Pakistan. They see their present and future with India. No peace deal with Pakistan will make any effect on their voting. They have their own formula for voting, which is another story. Anyhow, Manmohan Singh has this bee in the bonnet about Pakistan. Despite the Havana and post-Havana fiascos, the itch to flirt with General Parvez Musharraf's dangerous and Balkanizing Kashmir ideas don't quit the PM.

Once the Congress leadership understands that its interests would be hurt by the PM's flirtations, it effectively puts the gag order on him. Last week, hours after we lambasted Manmohan Singh for his romanticism about Pakistan and Afghanistan (Commentary, "Seal his lips," 9 January 2007), he was told to stay off the subject. Pranab Mukherjee soberly put across the Indian position during his Pakistan visit. That India's borders won't be reworked. The PM made this point first. Then he fell into assorted traps sprung by Musharraf, including his latest flight of fancy. Finally, the foreign minister had to make clear our immutable position. The tiresomeness of all this was reflected in our opinion piece yesterday (Commentary, "No sell-out," 15 January 2007). Stung by the criticism of a section of the media, the Congress party quickly went into damage control. This shows that the PM does not deserve the independence given him. If the PM has to be told again and again not to overstep the line, the Congress leadership should re-examine the wisdom of keeping Manmohan Singh in office.

And yet, as it turns out, the prime minister never learns. Now, officials say, he is fixated once again on a Siachen pullout under pressure from General Musharraf. Yesterday, the army chief, General J.J.Singh, said the government was fully apprised of the military's reservations. It didn't appear that the PMO was particularly sympathetic to the army line, despite General Singh having given the PM earlier a personal briefing on the dangers of evacuating the glaciers without authenticating rival troops' positions (Commentary, "Glory hunter ," 17 November 2006). Now that we have underscored the PM's insensitivity to national security issues, the Congress party will perhaps get into damage control again. This should please us for the impact of our opinions. But it doesn't. We would be perfectly happy if India's national interests are routinely safeguarded without our intervention. But in two-and-a-half years of the UPA government, this just never seems to happen. How can we continue to have a PM who impulsively weakens us, and who won't learn from his past mistakes?

Yet, it is ultimately not for us to tell the Congress party whom it should have as the PM. If it wishes to persist with Manmohan Singh, good luck. But presumably, the party would want to survive him. If it should care about its future, it would do well to straitjacket him on foreign policy matters, especially negotiations with Pakistan. It should recall its experienced minds from retirement or exile, and seek to establish continuity with the past while advancing ahead. Reportedly, the PM has taken upstart new advisors from the media. To the Congress party, we would say, beware them.

2 comments:

iamfordemocracy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
iamfordemocracy said...

After the nuclear supply deal with Russia, we should have second thoughts about Manmohan Singh. There seems to be a method behind his negotiations. Surely, the agreement with Russia comes without any strings attached. Surely, that will put pressure on US to follow suit. It seems to me that the strong resistance of BJP and scientists has helped a lot in the end. For once, the democratic debate seems to be helping India move closer to its goals.