No Excuses, Please, Just Act

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has taken exception to a report in the Washington Post that the Prime Minister cuts a tragic figure and has become ineffective. It should be understood that it is a very mild statement and it is stating the  obvious. Unlike in America where the House of Representatives or the Senate  may or may not support the President and therefore the President may not be able to push through his measures, in India, the Prime Minister is in full control of the Lower House of Parliament which has the power to approve financial business. The Indian Prime Minister has no excuse that Parliament is not allowing him to function. The fact remains that except where there are vested interests in the ruling party and its Government, little work is being done for the welfare of the people. The CAG is a very honoured office under the Indian Constitution,  whose job is to oversee the accounts of the Government. The CAG has brought out in report after report how even the ordinary norms which have been followed since  Independence have been thrown to the winds and how favours have been done for  the private sector selectively. In 1991, the present Prime Minister was the Finance Minister and brought about a whole host of measures in the name of liberalisation and one of the main aims was that  unlike  in the earlier regime, in the new regime,  every thing should be open and transparent and  be to the  advantage of the people. No favour would be done,  licenses would not be given selectively and there would be fair competition. Manmohan Singh used certain words meant to convey that there was too much license seeking, and some people used to corner the licenses and then make money without doing anything. He was right. What  happened in the 2G and the Coal Scams ? The same thing — people  who took the licenses because they had influence in the Government or the ruling party sold it at higher prices to others. It is licensing in a new form. The allotment of coal blocks or the allotment of the 2G spectrum is just like the issue of an industrial license. In the old regime, at least the public sectors were in their primacy. Very few private sectors stood to benefit. Here we see crores of private sectors companies who have got influence in the Government and work on giving money to get a particular favour, and  have been given licenses and they have sold the licenses at many times that price. I don’t know what the real issue is. Mr. Manmohan Singh is far too intelligent not to understand what has happened. He may not be personally involved in what has happened but he was the Minister in charge of the Coal Ministry and the Manmohan Singh whom the country knows is one who, if he had the slightest inkling of any wrong doing  would give his resignation. Yet here the BJP has been obstructing Parliament during the whole Monsoon Session only on the demand of Mr. Manmohan Singh’s resignation but their demand was falling on deaf ears. This is most intriguing,  there must be something more. Mr. Manmohan Singh must be feeling that by resigning even more damage would be done to him if he is out of the ruling party. That means there are even bigger scandals which are being hidden and he is scared that if he is not in power they will come out. Otherwise the Manmohan Singh whom we all know would not like so much of mud to be slung at him just to stick to his nominal post of Prime Minister. I called it nominal because nothing major can be done in this kind of a situation when the economy is not looking good, when the world economy is in trouble. On the other hand immediate measures are required on social issues, especially for the North-East.  People from Pune and from Bangalore were going in thousands  back to the North-East and reminded one of the Partition again. This kind of exodus has never taken place in free India. I don’t understand who can go and again win the hearts of the North-Eastern people. The Prime Minister is an economist. I don’t think he has an appeal across various classes of people. The Congress President, she is of course not well. She left the country recently for  medical treatment. But she has to rise to the occasion or ask other Congress leaders like Digvijay Singh or others to do so. They must go to the North-East, they must go to Bangalore, they must go to Pune and assure people that what is happening  is not correct, this is one country. Similarly there is a political party in Maharashtra which is asking the people from Bihar to go back. All these developments are not good auguries for  Indian democracy. One way out can be to dissolve the Lok Sabha and hold Elections. Let the people decide what they want. If they re-elect the same people, at least there will be some new thinking and if some others come into power, they will at least address the many problems that are besetting the country.

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