Sonia Gandhi can do no wrong.
That seems to be the basic assumption in the current debate on the various decisions of a very controversial nature made by the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh since the present government was formed after the elections of 2009—whether the decisions related to the questionable functioning of the ministry of telecommunications or the wrongful appointment to the high-pedestal post of the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) of someone facing an enquiry into a charge, which could cast a shadow on his integrity if proved or other serious matters of public interest.
In all the debates in public—whether in the media or by political parties— the focus has been on the role of the Prime Minister and other concerned ministers as well as bureaucrats. I watched with interest the debate in the various TV channels this evening on the adverse judgement of a bench of the Supreme Court delivered earlier in the day in the case regarding the procedure followed for the appointment of Shri PJ Thomas as the CVC.
The eminent personalities, who participated in the debates, as well as the TV anchors focussed only on the role of the various personalities in the government from the Prime Minister downwards. Not one of them mentioned even in passing the possible role of Sonia Gandhi as the leader of the Congress (I) in these controversial decisions. Even the spokespersons of the opposition parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), did not even mention her name in their interventions.
Does this mean that all these controversial decisions were taken only by the government with the Congress (I) leadership playing no role in it? Any objective analyst would find it difficult to accept this. We have been under a peculiar system of governance since 2004 in which real power seems to be wielded by Sonia Gandhi in her capacity as the head of the Congress (I) with the Prime Minister as the head of the government exercising only seeming power.
There has been an unseen, but unquestioned power which has been exercising a compulsive influence on decision-making in important matters. This compulsive influence is quite evident in the case of the appointment of the CVC. Whether in matters relating to his appointment despite his facing an incomplete enquiry or the defence of his appointment before the Supreme Court everyone from the Prime Minister downwards has been acting as if they were acting at the instance of an invisible force that could not be resisted. Such an invisible force could be only that of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.
She has been conducting herself as a neutral, disinterested bystander, who had nothing to do with any of these decisions. She has not spoken on any of these decisions in any great detail, nor has she been questioned. Everyone, including the media and even the opposition, has been behaving as if like the British monarch she is above and beyond all controversies and, hence, her role cannot be questioned.
If one has to find out the real truth behind the recent controversies it is as important to go into her role as it is to go into the role of others. The assumption that Sonia Gandhi can do no wrong has to be challenged by the public as well as the media and the political class. She must be made to face the fire of criticism and questioning like any other leader. She should no longer be treated as if she is a morally superior person whose good faith and integrity have to be implicitly accepted.
It is important for the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) now being constituted to summon her and question her in detail on the various controversies. It is equally important for her role in decision-making to be debated in Parliament, in the media and elsewhere. She should herself welcome a greater public focus on her role and influence in decision-making.
B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
The SPHINX was only people who are politically dependent on her occuping important Govt posts. All the top post in the UPA GOVT are occupied by Congress men who can not get elected to Parliament themselves- MMS the PM, Pranab the FM, PC the Home M, Antoney the Defence M are all dependent on regional parties/ Rajya Sabha seats to get to Parliament. MMS in Rajya Sabha, Pranab, PC and Antoney are dependent on regional parties to get to Parliament. Inexplicibily, Congress leaders who could get to Parliament on their own stregth like Mr Pawar, Mr Sangma, Mr Madhav Rao Scindia, Mr Rajesh Piolet etc are all no more in Congress Party or are no more!!!!!!
"As the NAC head and UPA chairperson, she has the right to part of the policy-maiking" - The Irreverent Indian
Absolutely. And also agree that Sonia should be accountable as a leader for the mis-governance,goof-ups and corruption.
The overall tone of this article and the intentional use of the metaphor "sphynx" very subtly tries to equate her with the horror,greed, power accumulation of mythological proportion. This is distasteful. Just because SG carries herself gracefully and intelligently, She doesn't deserve the unnecessary dark shed.
So refreshing to see someone telling the truth.........
"So far there is no prima facie evidence against Sonia Gandhi. Why would she be questioned on influencing decision making in govt? "
You have to watch televisions to see that. It is pretty evident. Anyway, there is nothing wrong with Mrs. Gandhi having a direct or indirect influence on government decision-making. As the NAC head and UPA chairperson, she has the right to part of the policy-maiking.
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