Note: This is a translation of Pratap Simha’s original Kannada Prabha piece titled Baaibittare Banna Bayalaaguttademba Bhayave Manmohan Singh published last Saturday.
Hazaron jawabon se acchi hai khamoshi meri
Na jaane kitne sawalon ke aabroo rakhe
So please answer us: how did this loot of epic proportions, of Rs. 1.86 lakh crores, occur right under your nose? When someone asks, “will you please answer the voters who’ve elected you,” you respond with “my silence is greater than a thousand questions.” Does this how the Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy respond? Is there an irresponsibility greater than this? Isn’t this simply a nice ruse to avoid responsibility? Not just that. The Prime Minister has retorted that “it has been my general practice not to respond to motivated criticism directed personally at me.”
Is it actually Manmohan Singh who’s made this statement? Does he suffer from a memory ailment? Does he forget the personal attack he himself made in 2008 against Leader of Opposition, L.K. Advani during the daylight disrobing of democracy when MP votes were literally bought both to save the Government and to get a majority for the Indo-US Nuclear deal? Does he forget how he mocked Advani asking him “change your astrologer” and “Sri Advani thinks Prime Ministership is his birthright.” His tongue, which was so active in those circumstances suddenly seems to forget how to do its job when explanation is sought for the coal scam.
Oil for food scam, 26/11 Mumbai, CWG, 2G, Adarsh Housing scam, Lavasa scam, Coalgate, and now, the Thorium scam that’s all set to erupt.
So whose responsibility is it when such scams take place? Who needs to control, manage, answer for, and remedy such scams? In short, who needs to answer the nation?
The Prime Minister. But what’s our Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh doing? When he is questioned about the necessity for the Indo-US Nuclear deal, he launches on an emotional speech about how he is from a humble, rural background but when he’s asked questions about scams, why does he respond with silence?
In the country whose Constitution we have almost copied, People’s Representatives—the Opposition—have a specific function to perform. The term itself usually means that they are the voice of the people, they’re the ones who speak on behalf of the people and they’re the ones who protest against the ruling party when it indulges in excesses. The Opposition in India performs pretty much the same function—it speaks on behalf of the Indian people. So why don’t you answer the voice of the people, Dr. Singh? Don’t you comprehend the import of Arun Jaitley’s statement that the right of silence is not available to the Prime Minister?
Is silence your way of accepting your mistakes, like the Sanskrit proverb which says, “silence is acquiescence?” But your silence is worrying: it makes us suspicious about the shameful 2008 cash-for-episode in which you had wagered the survival of your Government just over one agreement with the US. Very suspicious.
But this doesn’t mean that Dr. Manmohan Singh never speaks.
On March 25 2009, Congress president Sonia Gandhi released her party’s election manifesto and announced Manmohan Singh as her party’s Prime Ministerial candidate. A visibly excited Dr Singh who was standing beside her embarked on a verbal volley of criticism against BJP’s Lal Krishna Advani. He characterized Advani as an “opportunist” and remarked that when he was Home Minister, “the Parliament was attacked, the Red Fort was attacked, the Gujarat riots occurred, and an Indian Airlines plane was hijacked. In the end, it was the terrorists who walked away with the gift of freedom. This is the achievement of Advani!”
But he didn’t stop at that. Perhaps the presence of Sonia Gandhi infused him with a courage unseen hithertofore. He continued, “My Government’s achievements will tell the people whether I’m a weak or a strong Prime Minister. However, Mr. Advani who called me a weak PM must answer what his contributions are apart from playing a leading role in the destruction of the Babri Masjid!” That was a really serious allegation. Around the same time, the Congress was on a smear campaign about Varun Gandhi’s “communal” and “dangerous” speech. Manmohan Singh’s Babri Masjid remark was equally dangerous and communal. But Advani hit back at his campaign in Arunachal Pradesh: “Sonia Gandhi has done a good thing by announcing Manmohan Singh as the PM candidate. But then, Manmohan Singh needs to get elected directly to the Lok Sabha with a popular mandate instead of getting the PM chair through the backdoor entry called Rajya Sabha! Perhaps people will then take him seriously. Manmohan Singh is the weakest Prime Minister this country has ever seen. He can do nothing without Sonia Gandhi’s permission. Not a single file moves without her orders!” He added that in the US, the whole nation watches two Presidential hopefuls debating it out on live TV. “I’m ready for such a debate with Manmohan Singh. Is he?”
Had there been anybody else in Dr.Singh’s place, he should have, would have certainly taken up Advani’s gauntlet. However, Dr. Singh had failed to respond even 15 days after Advani’s open invitation for debate. In the end, Congress party spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan issued a statement that said that Advani was enamoured with America and made a hasty exit.
Mr. Manmohan Singh, when a person makes an allegation against another, he must also be ready with an answer when it is his turn to face an allegation. When you can question Advani about Babri Masjid and demand accountability, doesn’t it become equally incumbent upon you to also provide answers, to be accountable? At another time and place, you claimed that you have ruled the nation for the longest duration after Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi. So why do you get flustered when people point out that during this exact same, long duration, this nation has witnessed the maximum number and variety of scams in all of Independent India’s history? Why do you get upset when the Washington Post calls you a tragic PM? Why do you get defensive when TIME magazine calls you an Underachiever and rebuke it saying you don’t need a certificate from others?
Haven’t Indian media houses published numerous stories critical of George W Bush and Barack Obama?
Of course, when a foreign publication termed Manmohan Singh as Sonia’s poodle, we do agree that it was a harsh term to use. But isn’t it true? If it isn’t true, if Dr. Singh isn’t Sonia’s puppet, he needs to prove that publication wrong by sacking the scam-mongering ministers in his Cabinet.
Are you scared that the true colours will show if you open your mouth Dr. Singh?