Why Manmohan Singh Continues To Be PM
After the denouement by Rahul Gandhi of the ordinance over-riding the decision of the Supreme Court to ban any one from politics or political position like membership of Parliament, the expectation was that Manmohan Singh might resign. He was in Washington about to meet President Barack Obama and Pak Premier Nawaz Sharif, when Rahul Gandhi had said that the ordinance was nonsense and must be torn into pieces and thrown away. There could not be a greater attack on Dr Singh’s standing and credibility.
The Gandhi scion did not call Dr Singh nonsense but the ordinance which was passed and sent for the President’s signature was conceived and passed under his stewardship. As Prime Minister, the buck had to stop at his office. But instead of resigning Dr Singh made an urgent call to Sonia Gandhi, under whose patronage he became Prime Minister and has continued to hold the office at her pleasure.
Would anyone with self-respect have continued to cling to one’s office? No, is the obvious answer. But one should have known better. Some time ago he declared that he was ready to work under Rahul Gandhi. One who has completed almost 10 years as Prime Minister, is ready to work under a man of about half his age and one who has not been even a minister, is as it is most odd.
A retired Secretary of the Government of India and a contemporary of Dr Singh said that Dr Singh has mainly the mental make-up of a Babu and like all Babus dreads loss of perks and privileges enjoyed while in service. In his case, Dr Singh would lose the ride of seven series BMW and a house like at 7, Race Course Road and which has expanse of lawns. Everything except food is free. Would anyone like to lose all this?
And who, one might ask, is worried about self-respect? If anyone was, there won’t be so many scams and corruption. So the next best thing Dr Singh did was to speak with Mrs Gandhi. She assured him that the whole Congress Party was behind him. That satisfied the ego of Dr Singh. Mrs Gandhi was supporting him and that for Dr Singh meant the whole party.
So without a shade of pink on his face he returned to India and it is business as usual for him. Why Sonia is still backing him is another story.
Political Re-Alignments Post-Muzaffarnagar Riots
The first move was by Choudhary Sompal Shastri who returned the ticket from the Samajwadi Party. He could not remain in the contest on SP nomination with most Jats livid with Mulayam and Akhilesh Yadav. Chaudhry Sompal has about 25 per cent Jats who are loyal to him. Ajit Singh had almost lost out with his core supporters deserting him. The BJP would find it difficult to find a winning candidate.
In fact, insiders said that the RSS has told the BJP leadership that if no good candidate is found, it should try and get Ajit Singh elected. He would come handy in UP. A wise strategy. But in Sompal the BJP has a winning candidate.
One has to wait and watch how wise the RSS is when it comes to electoral politics.
The Question Of Modi’s Versatility
A huge controversy is raging as to how many people attended Modi’s rally at the Japanese Park in Rohini. A local BJP leader interviewed by a TV reporter said the crowd was between three and four lakh. Two TV channels estimated the crowd between 4.5 lakh and five lakh. The Delhi Police said 1.3 lakh people attended the rally, which no one believed.
The estimate is that about 50,000 travelled by metro, over 200 buses brought people from outside and locals from neighbouring areas came on their own and there were 12 diplomats. The correct estimate presumably would be that people there were between 2.5 and 3 lakh. Even this size of crowd no one else can collect.
Most correspondents of TV channels said the crowd was very enthused by Modi’s speech and the people were by and large quite satisfied. There was criticism of Modi not touching foreign or economic policies. But, most commentators felt that Modi intended to touch on different issues at different forums.
They were proved right. At International Advertising Association, Modi spoke on Indian Brand. At Manthan’s, an organisation of IIT, MBA and other college students, final annual session he spoke on the 20 expectations of the youth which had been drawn up by the youth. He turned out to be the best speaker and interacted well with the youth, most of them being left-wingers!
Why Is Sonia Eager To Retain Manmohan Singh?
Dr Manmohan Singh, after the outburst of Rahul Gandhi terming the ordinance bill which was aimed to negate the decision of the Supreme Court that anyone convicted over three years would immediately lose all political positions, as nonsense and should be torn and thrown away, was expected to resign. His credibility and authority while he was abroad had been hit devastatingly. But he did not resign and chose to telephone Sonia Gandhi, his mentor.
She told him that the entire Congress Party was behind him. That was enough for Dr Singh. He returned to India and started functioning as if nothing had happened. It was business as usual.
Sonia Gandhi needs him. He has proved his loyalty and he has been increasingly obsequious. In the 10 years that he has been prime minister he never tried to stiffen his spine. What better person could she get for prime ministership who never ever showed that he was prime minister with all the authority that position vests in one.
In case in the 2014 election, Congress gets much lesser number of Lok Sabha seats but is able to be part of a coalition Dr Singh could be an ideal compromise for becoming prime minister. In case the party gets more seats, say around 150 or 170, then Rahul Gandhi could possibly become prime minister but if heavyweights of other regional parties disagree, Dr Singh could again be thrust forward. He is a perfect solution for Sonia if she faces a few uncertainties. There can never be a better Man Friday for her.
She assuaged his ‘hurt’ feelings for practical political purposes even if she was in agreement of Rahul’s outburst.
Post-Lalu Yadav & Rasheed Masood
The conviction of Lalu Yadav, head of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and former Chief Minister of Bihar and Railway Minister at the Centre and an eternal loyalist of Sonia Gandhi, is bound to cause ripples both in the central and state politics. He has four MPs in the Lok Sabha and was supposed to have improved his fortune in the coming General Election. Odds for his party were better than that of Nitish Kumar’s JD(U).
In fact, election experts said that in Bihar the main contest would be between the BJP and RJD. But his conviction can either improve his chances more because of emotional support by Yadavs or the RJD would fall in disarray. Emotions do not last eight or nine months. Although, Lalu’s wife Rabri Devi has said that the RJD would be run by her and her son like the Congress Party is managed by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, it is easy said than done.
The expectation is that most Yadavs would vote for the BJP because of Modi in the general election and for the RJD in state election. But then the Assembly election is far away.
No Takers For £17 Billion In Cash At Moscow Airport
Any traveller will tell you how easy it is for loose change to worm its way out of your pocket and behind the seat cover during a long journey. And most of us might not even notice the loss of a few coins. But to fail to spot that you’d left £17 billion on board a plane is something else—so it’s not surprising that the discovery of stacks of two hundred million 100 euro notes at a Russian airport is still causing fevered speculation six years on.
The cash was flown to Moscow’s Sheremtyevo Airport from Frankfurt in 2007, apparently on the behest of an Iranian named Farzin Motagh but has never been claimed. The latest rumours suggest that it may represent the ill-gotten gains of Saddam Hussein or perhaps Muammar Gaddafi. If it’s yours do let the Russians know. But be careful spy agencies of at least five countries, the US, the UK, Mossad, KGB, Surete and RAW would be after you. But £17 billion is worth going to jail for a couple of years.