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Posts Tagged ‘Sonia Gandhi’

It’s time to get back to basics for the Congress

Posted by chimeki on December 12, 2013

Now that the election results of four states are out, the Congress party needs to rethink its strategy for future. The mandate is anti Congress and there is no reason to think otherwise. The first thing the Congress should do immediately is to change guard and bring new faces at the helm of the affairs. It means it is time that the party President and Vice President are given rest and let other take the responsibility. There is no harm in thinking in this line. No individual should be above an institution as old and as big as the Congress. Both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi can contribute to the party by saving in their respective constituencies.

Besides this makeover the party should let its regional satraps decide. In other words they should be allowed nature ambitions. A political party in a parliamentary democracy cannot grow or live if it stops its leaders from cultivating ambitions. The Congress since Indira Gandhi had suppressed the culture of competition.

During its initial days after independence, there was a culture of competition in the party. Leaders could speak their minds without fear. Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr Rajendra Prasad, Vallabhabhai Patel, Kamaraj, and others were never afraid to suggest contradictory and often opposite opinions. Many a times, leaders of stature of Nehru and Patel had to give up on the pressure of the party. Even, during the party’s presidential election Nehru and others never had an easy go. They competed to remain relevant. After Nehru’s death, the principle of collective leadership was further emphasized and acted upon. In India After Gandhi, Ramachandra Guha narrates how then Congress President Kamaraj discussed the issues of succession with then chief ministers and members of parliament. After Lal Bahadur Shastri’s sudden demise, the same method was applied.

But Indira Gandhi changed the whole system collective leadership in the party upside down. It wasn’t less than a coup d’état. She made the party a family’s business.  It is true that the Gandhis have played an important role in keeping the Congress together but the opposite view also holds the truth that the most revolts in the party were against the Gandhis’s leadership! If during Indira Gandhi things had begun to fall apart, it has aggravated during Sonia Gandhi’s reign. The follow up of what Indira did is what we see now! Sonia Gandhi has never been much accommodating to the idea of openness in the party. Though she had for the better part of her reign has kept herself low profile but she has also, simultaneously, didn’t allow other leaders to be seen as equal! Like in open economy, competition and greed are the locomotives of a parliamentary party.

Compare this state with the other national party BJP the difference is obvious. With all its faults, it has let its members and supporters grow ambition. This had led to the growth of leaders with immense potential and mass appeal. Leaders like LK Advani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Murli Manohar Joshi, Narendra Modi, Sushma Swaraj, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Vasundhara Raje, Raman Singh, Uma Bharti and other are the result of such competitive spirit. Kill this spirit and the BJP will be in tatters.

This equally applies to other parties as well. Those refusing to abide by the principle of inner party competition had faced, facing and will face the fate of the Congress. Lalu’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party, AIADMK and even Mayawati’s BSP will find it difficult to challenge this proven law of parliamentary democracy. They either have mend their ways or perish. There is no mid way.

Coming back to the Congress, it is urgently need for it to let regional and national leaders take the lead in its affairs. Let them compete and prove their worth. The more people have eye on the top seat the better. Without giving them opportunity to grow the party is in the suicidal mode. The Gandhis cannot always carry the party on their shoulders. They don’t even have strength required to do so now. It wouldn’t be inappropriate to suggest that the Gandhis have come close to their journey and what is the better way to honour them by making one of their folks the president of India!



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Secret Dairy of an Indian President

Posted by chimeki on July 30, 2012

While all the political maneuverings are done downhill, I Pranab Mukherjee, the most overrated player is left alone in the 350-room abode to watch them on television. Here, in a tightly guarded room I sit on a silver chair to write dairy. The protocol, they say, I must follow until I vacate the Bhavan.

I don’t want to do this. It is something I have been able to avoid all my life in public service. Had I maintained a dairy would I have climbed the Raisina Hill? I am said to be a Brahmin but I have always followed the Buddhist principle of being an observer. I never participant in process but narrate them to others. And maybe that is why I am called a crisis manager. My trick to management is to speak truth to friends and foes alike. I always frankly told our coalition partners what they could sincerely expect as junior partners. My offers included: no CBI inquiry of any kind as long as they remain in coalition and extra fund from center for state’s (mis)management. These are but two of many in offer.

My second principle is to keep silence. Unlike others in our party who either seldom speak or too much I speak when I am asked to. I learnt this from our great leader Rajeev Gandhi. He threw me out of the working committee for speaking when it was best to remain silent. Let me recall the story. Immediately after Mrs Indira Gandhi was assassinated and he and I were flying back to Delhi from Calcutta, to test my loyalty, he asked me who should replace her. I innocently suggested that she should be replaced by the senior most member of the party’s working committee. While uttering these words I didn’t realize that I was lobbying for myself. He didn’t like the answer and as soon as we reached Delhi I was replaced even before Mrs Gandhi. It took me seven years to get back to where I was on that inauspicious day.

Let’s not dig into past. I want to talk present. If you carefully look at the coverage of this year’s presidential election you will find that unlike in the past my election to the highest post was covered pompously. The newspersons talked about the importance of this office and how I might have felt after getting elected? They spoke about the greatest honor I was getting for serving this great land for these many years. But with my political acumen I could see that they were not celebrating my ‘victory’ but failure. Yes, I failed miserably. Should I act naïve to consider being president as the greatest honor one can achieve? For many years I had dreamed of becoming the prime minister of the country.

A man of my repute who had opportunities to attend the meetings presided by Late Mrs Indira Gandhi can hardly feel proud on becoming president. I still had memory of the time when Mrs Gandhi decided to impose Internal Emergency. While many of us were asked for suggestions she never, for a second, thought of then President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed. When one of the ministers reminded her if he would ratify the decision she just smiled. She didn’t even give a second thought when she sent the ordinance for approval. This is how a president is treated in our polity. We crack jokes on presidents. In our working committee meetings we often scare colleagues of proposing them for presidentship (of India of course) else they fall in line. Recently Mr Manmohan Singh tried to take on Mrs Sonia Gandhi and was shocked to hear in the evening news one of our party leaders wishing to see him on the ‘highest post’! He immediately rang her and apologized.

So when I saw media coverage of my swearing in I immediately understood they were celebrating my defeat and not victory. Our country’s media was actually celebrating my retirement from the politics. For a year or so I had been hitting corporate where it hurts the most. This I did deliberately. I knew Mrs Gandhi was all set to give me farewell after this term. I decided to make the corporate upset before that for I knew the pain in their ass is pain in our government’s ass. The more they are upset the more the chance to get big. I succeeded. The party decided to gracefully remove me from the finance ministry.

All said, I must confess I failed to achieve my goal in life. Today in the morning when I was taking guard of honor I heard one former colleague of mine cracking joke. He said, “a person who should often speak is mute. A person who could speak was muted today”. I can’t agree more. Frankly speaking I didn’t have a new responsibility today but retired from public life. I believe I am paying for taking the corporate world and its linchpins head-on. I did not come here an achiever but a loner. I am Napoleon on Saint Helena.


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