Incredible: The Gandhis Rolling Into History
When the 129-year-old Congress Party was ripped off of all its grandeur and pretentions (of being secular and pro-poor) by the voter in the recently concluded general elections, the Mother and Son too were stripped off their royalty garb. The halo of Nehru-Gandhi martyrdom, the Son tried to en cash, was heartlessly ignored.
The outrage of the voter at their nonchalant attitude towards corruption and scams involving ministers and party leaders and over the land-buying spree by the Family’s Jamai Babu through allegedly questionable deals, resulted in the people doubting their probity in public life. The trust in them was replaced by contempt for them. And a desire to root them out of Indian politics! The angry voter almost destroyed the Congress of the Mother and Son, raising the question post-polls, can Congress be revived with or without the duo?
But still believing in the divine right of the Nehru-Gandhis to rule India, they were seemingly sitting pretty, while their courtiers soothed them. It was all back to normal. They were not asked what went wrong instead ‘requested’ to chart the map to recovery. A bit of cosmetic touches they believed and they would be back. It was just a question of time, Modi would fail to fulfil his promises and the frustrated voter would walk back under their banyan tree. But the hope died with summons in a criminal case of misappropriation, fraud and cheating.
The summons issued by Metropolitan Magistrate Gomati Manocha, to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi to appear before the court in a case filed by Dr Subramaniam Swamy charging them with misappropriation of the funds of the National Herald newspaper that was shut down some years ago, appear to be the beginning of the end of the dominance in Indian politics of the family since the time of Motilal Nehru.
Why Are The Gandhis In The Dock?
It all started with the Congress giving a loan of 90 crore to owners of National Herald (Associated Journals Ltd) to pay off their debts worth that amount. The funds of Congress are from donations that are tax free and cannot be used for commercial funding as per law.
The NH then transfers shares worth that amount to Young India, a section-25 not-for-profit company, owned by the Gandhis and some others—allegedly between the mother and son, they have 76 per cent of shares.
Young India pays 50 lakh to NH and buys off the company. In the process Young India and the Gandhis allegedly get realty worth 2000 crore. That is the Delhi property alone. The NH has across the country assets of reportedly around 5000 crore. So Young India got assets worth over 2000 crore for a paltry 50 lakh (and the indirect transfer of 90 crore from Congress through NH in terms of shares).
These facts came out around November 2012. If they did not many of the real estate assets of NH might have already changed hands and sold to builders and property developers. It’s a lot like Robert Vadra buying land cheap with funds from a future buyer, getting it quickly regularised and then selling it off at a huge premium to that same buyer who funded him. The media was silent about the revelations and no answers were sought from the Gandhis.
On June 26, 2014 a court in Delhi, after the first hearings, has found a prima-facie case of criminal breach of trust and conspiracy to cheat and has summoned Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and another four Congress members who are involved in executing the NH scam. Every aspect of this case is based on hard documents and not circumstantial evidence. And the documents have been verified by the authorities to be genuine.
Metropolitian Magistrate Gomati Manocha, while issuing the summons, said: “I have found prima facie evidence against all the accused.”The court has directed them to appear before it on August 7. Apart from Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, the court has also summoned senior Congress leaders Motilal Vora and Oscar Fernandes. The court also issued summons to Sam Pitroda, former advisor to the then PM Manmohan Singh on public information, infrastructure and innovation, who also headed the National Innovation Council, a think tank to analyse and help implement strategies for inclusive innovation during the UPA regime. Former journalist Suman Dubey, who is close to the Gandhi family, was also summoned by the court.
Speaking to reporters, Swamy said: “This is a fraud, criminal breach of trust as they have managed to misappropriate the fund of Rs. 2,000 crore.” Dr Swamy wants passports of Sonia and Rahul to be deposited in the court. “It is important for the court to take the passports of Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi so that they do not run away from the country before the hearing in the court.”
In any case, the Son is incapable of realising the doom they are facing. He was reportedly enjoying a sojourn in the salubrious climes of Europe, while the fuse was getting shorter that could reduce the Dynasty to smithereens. The alarming sign for the Gandhis is that the public appears to have taken the news with we-told-you-so attitude. One detects a bit of satisfaction—that law is now taking its course against the duo considered to be above law. There have been no crowds opposite 10, Janpath shouting slogans proclaiming the integrity of Sonia. It also displays indifference of Congress leaders and members too towards the plight of their supreme commander.
Evolution Of Dynasty Rule
One Gandhi spawned leaders with strong moral and ethical fibre and secured Independence. The only-in-name Gandhis spawned dynastic rule that has led to fiefdom and utter disregard to democratic ethics. .
The only thing left common between the original Gandhi, the Mahatma, and the Gandhis, the successors of Jawaharlal Nehru, is the surname. Their feudal culture of the Queen and her courtiers must have made the Mahatma’s soul sick. He had ethical and moral values which he passed on to Nehru and other stalwarts of that time.
Bernard Shaw had aptly said about Gandhi, “He was politician amongst saints and a saint amongst politicians.” The latter-day Gandhis, especially, the present claimants to that surname, have very little saintly about them, except having a passing knowledge of saints, some of whose worldly remains are worshipped by hundreds of thousands who visit Florence.
The biggest (?) contribution of these Gandhis is the creation of dynastic rule. Nehru did make Indira Gandhi Congress President in 1956 but when he died, the Syndicate chose Lal Bahadur Shastri. Indira Gandhi was not even in contention, Morarji was. It is possible that Nehru while appointing Indira Gandhi, president of the party hoped that she would succeed him. But that did not happen.
It was after Shastri’s untimely death that Indira Gandhi was made prime minister. There was no sign of the start of the culture of dynastic rule. Mrs Gandhi became very powerful after the Bangladesh war but was wary of her members, having faced the split engineered by the old guard. But when Allahabad High Court disqualified her from membership of Parliament and her premiership was threatened, son Sanjay took over the defence and preservation of the prime minister seat for his mother.
Constitution was suspended and the Emergency imposed. In other words Sanjay Raj was ushered in. So we can say that it was in the dark, dictatorial days of the Emergency that Sanjay Gandhi took over the number two slot and became a power centre and Congress became Congress (I). Indira is India and India is Indira slogan was accepted by the party leaders.
That was the beginning of the son ruling under the patronage of the mother. The first principle of Dynastic rule was initiated. Party members not only accepted the principle but also campaigned for it. When Sanjay crashed his plane and died, the chief ministers led by Gundu Rao, Karnataka chief minister orchestrated for Rajiv Gandhi to be successor to Sanjay. He held a meeting of 300 that included party leaders, MPs and MLAs to press Indira Gandhi to induct Rajiv in politics and take the place of Sanjay. It was such obsequious Congress men who helped Indira Gandhi set the dynastic rule.
Rajiv became MP, then General Secretary of the Party. It was taken for granted that Rajiv was the heir-apparent. And he did succeed his mother. But Rajiv could not and did not behave like an autocrat. The RIP of the Congress of the yore was written in the 90s when Sonia Gandhi was made its President. Her mother-in-law had turned it into a Dynastic controlled party, but Sonia converted the Congress into a fiefdom. She anointed herself its leader and her son the Pretender to the Throne. They ruled for a decade without responsibility for she chose in 2004 the spineless Manmohan Singh. He ‘allowed’ them to remote control a PM’s authority. Reduced to be a puppet, he was happy living at the most famous address in the Capital.
The ‘Queen’ faces ignominy but no courtier has jumped up in defence. The discussions in drawing rooms, clubs and even public transport do not seem to pity them. Is the public so alienated and angry with them? What a far cry from the days when crowds used to touch their feet.
Soniaji and Rahulji belong to the Family that ruled the country from the midnight of August 15, 1947 (see Box B). They could do no wrong. The Family produced politicians who served the nation. But the present successors of the same family are politicians who make the country serve their interests. But no loyalist sprang up in their defence.
Instead the biggest votaries of the Gandhis, whose fidelity was never in question have been critical. AK Antony publically denounced his party’s apparent proximity to minority communities. He added that it had led people to doubt its secularism. “Some sections of society have an impression that the party is inclined to certain communities or organisations. Congress policy is equal justice to everyone. But people have doubt whether that policy is being implemented or not,” Antony said. “This doubt is created by the party’s proximity towards minority communities, and in such a situation the door for the entry of communal forces into Kerala is wide open.”
Such a damaging view openly narrated at a public place, could not have been considered possible even last year. Has the Duo’s authority been fleeced by the voter so badly?
Another loyalist Digvijay Singh has also been critical. And that too of the Prince. He said Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi by temperament was not a ruling person while reiterating that Rahul should have taken up the responsibility of leading the party in Lok Sabha. “I can say that in a democracy, opposition space is necessary. Since the Congress is the largest opposition group, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi should have taken up the responsibility.” Singh’s comments were seen as his unhappiness (read criticism) over Rahul’s reluctance to take up the responsibility of leading the party in the Lower House. Later in the day, he clarified he was not questioning Rahul’s leadership abilities or qualities.
The most amazing is the deafening silence of the left, liberal intellectuals, the exalted members of the Lutyens Club and the media full of editors and commentators, more loyal to the Gandhis than their boot-licking, fawning party leaders. They have not so far damned Narendra Modi or the RSS of conspiracy to destroy the opposition, its pillar being the Gandhis.
Were these fawning ji huzoors time servers? They never questioned the near criminal disregard of the rules of Law and destruction of institutions that are pillars of democracy, by the UPA which we now know was puppet in the hands of tenants at 10, Janpath. But now many of them are changing colours proving that it’s their self-interests rather than ideology that determines their fidelity. How apt was the remark of one of my bosses about a journalist who has made it real big. “He is like the gharnawalis who never become widows. One ‘husband’ dies they move to another.” Unfortunately, this tribe does not have that option this time round. So they have all gone quiet and their guns fallen silent. They seem to have sensed that it is bad days at 10, Janpath—Leave the Gandhis alone to their devices to try escape the long hands of Law.
By Vijay Dutt