Over the past two years I have made some attempts to chronicle the media’s deafening silence on questioning Sonia Gandhi. With each passing issue/scam/parliament session, her silence on multiple issues is only causing heartburn. Inspired by fellow tweeter “Dosabandit” call for the need to keep the momentum going, I am documenting below, the various serious issues over the last 6-7 years, in which Sonia Gandhi was not even remotely questioned. Some of them have been picked from old blogposts (language changed a bit), some written today. Going forward, I plan to add to this growing list.
I am sure “liberals” might find this blog “negative”. Frankly, in no other country is the real power center let off so unscrutinised by the media and the opposition (a recent article by Sagarika Ghose is the only exception). This blog is like a culmination of my frustration at these open transgressions by the uncrowned queen of India. What follows is a 2,500 word explanation, with multiple examples (in no particular order). Apologise for the length J.
Honouring the culprits of Terror attacks
Many people in the media constantly write that Shivraj Patil resigned because of the widespread criticism after 26/11. The bad thing it did was to erase all the previous multiple terror attacks in various parts of the country. Suddenly, Shivraj Patil’s inefficiency that caused terror attacks in Hyderabad, Delhi (after these attacks, Shivraj Patil famously said he has the “blessings of his leader”), Mumbai (train blasts), Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Jaipur – all these were forgotten. 26/11 was just a culmination of these attacks. The lives lost in these cities are no less precious than the ones lost in 26/11. The audacity of 26/11 might have shocked us, but that should not be the reason for us to forget that Shivraj Patil has been at the helm to oversee a systematic decimation of our intelligence apparatus. His clear lack of common sense, utter disregard for work, and extreme dedication to this clothes made him totally unfit for the job everyone considered number 2 in the government.
The man should have been prosecuted. Yet, Sonia Gandhi decided, after the dust over 26/11 has settled down, that it was time to gift Shivraj Patil a nice retirement gift. What better than making him a Governor. Shivraj Patil’s appointment as governor of Punjab is a clear insult to the memory of the victims of multiple terror attacks in the country. There were three people who were made to resign their posts after 26/11. Vilas Rao Deshmukh resigned as CM of Maharashtra. He was made the Union Cabinet Minister for Industries (now is the Rural Development Minister) in May 2009. Shivraj Patil resigned as the Home Minister of India, only to be made the Governor of a state 1 1/2 year later.
The two guys who have been made to resign are back in business. Loyalty to the first family ensured that loss of power was only temporary. Our media, which loses no opportunity to remind us of Kandahar, has devoutly let Sonia Gandhi and Shivraj Patil off the hook (it’s as if the Shivraj Patil reign never happened!).
Since 2004, all that we have been hearing from Congress leaders AP is that “Madam has a full grip of the Telangana issue. She will take the final decision and that decision will be a favourable one”. That’s all we have been hearing. “Madam will decide.” “Madam will decide.”
Our esteemed Chief Minister (the present one, the previous one, the one before that too) loses no opportunity to heap praises on Madam. Never lost a chance to invoke the name of Madam. We were told that the 11:45pm announcement on Dec.9th, 2009 was Madam’s birthday gift to the people of Telangana. Congress ministers send resignations to Madam, not to the CM. MLAs send resignations to Madam, not Speaker. At a recent dharna outside Parliament, a Congress member held a poster that read “Sonia Gandhi Zindabad, We want Telangana.”
All these incidents led me to believe that Madam is the all permeating, super caring, ever vigilant saviour of my state. She is the only person in this entire country who is capable and eligible to solve all problems we all face. She is the ONE, the ONLY.
Today my state, Andhra Pradesh, that twice sent about 30 MP’s so that Madam can be in power, is in distress. For the last one and half year (and atleast for the next one and half year), her favourite aam aadmi has been suffering the most, hooligans have decided to hold my state to ransom, making demands at gunpoint. No word from Madam. These hooligans are forcing shops to close, burning buses and damaging public property. Not a single word from Madam. Colleges are being closed, businesses are leaving AP, summits are being shifted. Still, not a single word from Madam.
Infact, we are now being told by our national media folks that it was PC who bungled this. Implying Madam had nothing to do with it. But then, that was not what we were told no … We were told Madam is awesome and she will take the final decision.Congress people keep on saying that because TDP said yes to a resolution, Congress okayed the Dec.9th announcement. Wait a minute – weren’t we told that the caring Madam will take the ultimate decision?
We are sometimes also told that Madam’s present strategy is also brilliant – this violence will stop over time and people will live happily ever after. If time heals, then what is the need for Madam?? And guess what – the media has not dared to question Sonia Gandhi.
With loyal troopers in tow, she has made every attempt to erase the memory of Congress rule of 1991-1996. Infact, she even went ahead and credited Rajiv Gandhi with the economic reforms. For those who don’t know, Economic reforms were initiated in 1991-1992, after Rajiv Gandhi’s demise and PV becoming the Prime Minister. Common sense suggests Rajiv can no way be involved! Yet, in the 125th year celebration of the Congress party, the President of the Congress, Sonia Gandhi, made every possible attempt to scuttle the memory of the man under whose helm the country did see some radical changes, just because he didn’t belong to the family. Infact Madam has named all Congress PM’s except for P.V.Narasimha Rao. In any Congress party plenary/function, the party does not even have a picture of P.V.Narasimha Rao. The media, which enjoys the fruits of liberalisation intitiated by P.V. shows more loyalty towards Sonia than P.V.!
Womens Reservation Bill
The bill was introduced on Monday, March 8th, 2010 and was touted as Sonia Gandhi’s gift to the nation on International Women’s Day. The MP’s opposing the bill tried to snatch papers directly from the Chairman of Rajya Sabha. The government miserably failed in its floor management strategy. Stung by the all round criticism, Madam Sonia Gandhi was now insistent that the bill has to be passed – happen what may (not my words – the media went gaga over this.). The government moved for the suspension of those MP’s who tried to snatch papers from Chairman. With that, I have no issues at all. Those MP’s deserved to be punished. Now, here’s where the problem arises. It is mandatory that atleast a 4 hour debate precede any voting on a bill that seeks to amend the constitution. The government, in its now familiar urge to satisfy the whims of Sonia Gandhi put to vote because there was slogan shouting in the house!!!
It took the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha to walk over to the Prime Minister and convince him that this is not the way, a debate has to be held. It was then the government relented, and there was a dissussion. Instead of calling this blatant bluff by Congress to subvert all democratic traditions to cater to the wish of Madam, NDTV went bonkers on the “strength of Sonia”. Barkha Dutt wouldn’t just stop praising Sonia Gandhi for this “victory” (and not even a cursory mention of efforts of people who actually pioneered the bill). IBN was sensible enough to call this as a very dangerous precedent. Minor Detail: One year hence, the bill is still just a bill. Not an act. Common Sense suggests that follow up questions need to be directed towards Sonia Gandhi. That will never happen.
Vitroil on Amitabh Bachchan
When you read a headline, “Congress attacks Amitabh Bachchan, Modi”, you would normally expect that since Congress is led by Sonia Gandhi, the “attack” has her approval. The background is this- Amitabh Bachchan decides to be brand Ambassador for Gujarat. Congress spokesperson, the esteemed Manish Tewari spew vitroil on Amitabh (unfortunately I haven’t saved those links. Blogged about it, but no saved links. Google search is throwing up only his decent language. If you followed this story then, am sure you know what I am speaking about J). Congress Chief Minister Vilas Rao Deshmukh says he would not have attended a program if he knew Amitabh was there. One more Congress CM, Shiela Dixit removes a video message of Abhishek Bachchan from a government function. Manish Tewari uses the most unparliamentary language from the Congress party office for a full three days. And then it happened – Prannoy Roy told us that his sources say “Sonia doesn’t know about this”. hahaha, true Didn’t we all see it coming. The next day, we are told that Sonia Gandhi has asked spokespersons not to speak about Amitabh anymore. The media lapped it up. Not once in these three days did the media dare question Sonia Gandhi.
The most dangerous of all. One of the most critical decisions the Congress party had to take, after Sonia Gandhi “renounced” her claim to the post of Prime Minister, was this – how to credit her for flagship schemes of UPA? And from that critical thinking was born the National Advisory Council. The NAC apparently has been set up as an “interface for civil society”. If you are wondering why the government, elected by the people (“civil society”), needs another institution for interfacing with the very same people that elected it – please stop thinking logically ! This council has “advised” the government on NREGA, RTI and the Forest Rights Act; so now you see how this works – it was Sonia Gandhi who is responsible for all the flagship schemes (ofcourse if implementation is screwed up, the government is always ready to take the blame!). And after UPA’s victory in 2009, she was re-appointed (by herself) as the chairperson of NAC – this time to take credit for the “National Food Security Bill”.
Now, one such distinguished member of NAC, Jean Dreze has written a detailed article in The Hindu, complaining about the lack of co-operation from the government (more on this issue here, and here). And then if you think the suggestion ends here – you are mistaken. Look at this report. NAC has proposed a redress mechanism. It proposes a parallel authority to the District Collector, and “anyone” can approach this authority at district and block level. Isn’t the District Collector supposed to be approachable to “anyone”? Why is the NAC hell bent on creating parallel structures just like itself? Who gave them the mandate to think of such ridiculous proposals and then go to town when they are rejected? Sonia Gandhi led NAC is totally dis-satisfied with the government’s response to their proposals. So much that a member writes an article in national newspapers. Did that article have Madam’s approval? If so, is this her veiled attack at the Prime Minister? Apparently, they “have the full mandate” to draft bills as they wish to. They also apparently have “convinced” the government on changes that need to be made to RTI and the Forest Right Act. NAC has power, no responsibility. Government has no power, only responsibility!
The scams and Coalition Compulsions
Till recently, both the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi were beyond criticism (according to the media). Recent events that exposed multiple scams saw the media finally come out of the cocoon and question the Prime Minister. Not surprisingly enough, Sonia Gandhi is still beyond questioning. Simple questions. Are we to seriously believe that Sonia Gandhi had absolutely NO role in the formation of the government? Are we to seriously believe that A. Raja came back into the Cabinet without Sonia Gandhi’s support? When there was so much furore over multiple scams in the country, are we to seriously believe that Sonia Gandhi had absolutely NO role in the gross inaction of the UPA? Are we to seriously believe that Sonia Gandhi had NO role in the CVC fiasco? The media has been more than forthcoming in trying to ensure that the Congress party and the government are seen as separate entities. That Sonia Gandhi and Congress party are seen as separate entities (only in failures. For any success, we all know who is credited!).
Performance in Parliament
Since 2004, have you ever heard her speak in Parliament? Do you happen to know any of her views on any subject, important and trivial? Do you happen to know her views on the bills her own NAC drafts? Do you know if she understands the nitty gritty of all those policies that her NAC so shamelessly goes about recommending? Have you ever heard her ask any questions in the Lok Sabha? Is it too much to demand that the chairperson of the ruling coaltion speak to the people of the country regularly? Media has created a certain aura around Sonia Gandhi. And more than the Congress party, it looks like the media does not want to demolish that false sense of aura. Anytime soon.
Let me start with an example. In India, the Governor of a state has the power to recommend to dismiss the elected government of that state. That recommendation is sent to the Union Cabinet and it is upto the Cabinet to decide whether to accept or reject this recommendation. With this background – let’s see what happened in 2005. Bihar Governor, Buta Singh (a Congress appointee) recommends President’s Rule in Bihar (officially cites “horse trading” as the reason). Sends it immediately to the Union Government. Cabinet okays the recommendation. Sends a midnight missive to the President of India (who was in Russia) and gets it approved. Soon after, the Supreme Court declares the recommendation and its subsequent approval as unconstitutional. Guess who the fall guy is – the Governor! For merely following the orders of the High Command, he was made the scapegoat. No responsibility fixed on the Cabinet (which had the option of rejecting the recommendation too). The whole drama/fiasco had politics scripted all over it. And we were safely made to believe that the President of the Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, had NO role to play in this.
Sonia Gandhi has presided over the unprecedented demolition of constitutional institutions. Raj Bhavans, which house Governors, have become a place for rehabilitation of loyal family troopers. Right from Buta Singh, Shivraj Patil to H.R.Bharadwaj, we have seen how she has systematically ensured that this institution stands demolished. Her NAC is the next example of how she is damaging the institution of the Cabinet. All main bills get framed by NAC and not the concerned ministries. Ministers merely exist to implement orders. Former Election Commissioner, Navin Chawla, was widely accused of being a Congress fanboy. One such accusation came directly from the then Chief Election Commissioner (who wrote a 900 page report to the President). Navin Chawla went on to become the Chief Election Commissioner. The concept of impartial Election Commissioner was thrown to the winds. We all know on whose whims and fancies the CBI functions. The CVC issue is too recent to be recounted in detail. And before you think, I am the only one ranting on this – an excerpt from an editorial in The Hindu – “The irony is that it is the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government that is weakening the institutional foundations of good governance in the country”.
And who leads the Congress?