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Posts Tagged ‘George Fernandes

Sonia Gandhi, too, should share the blame for sweeping the post-Kargil scams under the carpet. She, as not only the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament at the time but also the President of the country’s oldest political party, had woken up too late to the “mess” that Fernandes had created in the wake of the Kargil conflict and, then too, her approach had been lackadaisical.
Sonia, or her party, did not try to find out if the “mess” was the result of incompetence or design. Defence Minister George Fernandes, the former socialist-turned-trade unionist, had, by his own admission, worked for the West German intelligence agency during India’s Emergency. He might, who knows, still be on the rolls of a foreign intelligence agency not exactly operating in the best interests of India when he was holding charge of Defence portfolio.
His role during the Kargil crisis was inexplicable. His utterances had created so much problem for the Government that the National Security Council (NSC) held its first meeting on June 8, 1999 to discuss the matter and was constrained to ask Fernandes to keep his mouth shut.
On crucial days from May 6, when the first confirmed news of infiltration from across the Line of Control was reported to him, Fernandes was busy holding rounds of confabulations with Chandra Shekhar, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Sharad Pawar, amongst others, for new political alignments. On May 8, he left for Mumbai to celebrate the silver jubilee of the 1974 railway strike led by him.
Fernandes took a moralistic stand after the Tehelka expose, resigned from the Government and declared that he would not rejoin it till he was cleared of the allegations. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who must be knowing Fernandes inside out, was also taken in because he declared in his Address to the Nation: “In the highest traditions of the country, to safeguard the morale of our forces and the security of the country, my esteemed colleague, a stalwart of the NDA, George Fernandes, has left office”. Within a few months, Fernandes was back at his position. No one knows if it was some foreign pressure that compelled Vajpayee to take him back, giving a blow to the “highest traditions of the country”, “morale of our forces” and “the security of the country”.
Sonia betrayed the people by forcing an anti-climax to the Congress party’s signature campaign launched with a great fanfare in the wake of the Tehelka expose. It was said that Sonia, accompanied by all PCC presidents, would hand over the signatures to the President and seek action. One can imagine how it would have galvanised the party and sent a positive message to the people. But when the time came, Sonia pushed off to the US, leaving it to some AICC functionaries to present the truckloads of signatures to President K R Narayanan.

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After having enjoyed unbridled power for ten years, the Congress party is now at its worst in the party’s history spanning a quarter and a century. Its rank and file is completely demoralised. What is worse, the Congress does not even have the number of members in Lok Sabha required under the rules to claim the status of recognised Opposition party, which Sonia Gandhi desperately needs to keep intact her vast empire as well as for the protection of her family members. The Narendra Modi government can oblige her by bending the rules, but surely not without a proper price. There is now the danger of Sonia Gandhi once again compromising as she once did on the defence deals scam issue.

The bungling in defence deals made by the NDA government led by Atal Behari Vajpayee during the Kargil war was exposed by Tehelka. Sonia Gandhi decided to take it up. She asked her party men to collect signatures all over the country on a petition to the President seeking an inquiry by a Joint Parliamentary Committee into the defence scams. The Congressmen worked with a rare missionary zeal and were reported to have collected around 6.25 crore signatures in a three-month-long countrywide drive.

Such a massive mobilisation of the Congress party on an issue of vital public interest had not been witnessed in the past several decades. The top NDA leaders went into panic. Defence Minister George Fernandes lost his sleep, and with that a part of his sanity also. He went on threatening to file sedition cases against Sonia Gandhi if she did not desist (from what he said was an act aimed at demoralising the armed forces). Sonia Gandhi had, in spite of her linguistic handicaps and “lack of experience” in politics, caught the imagination of the masses. . It was said that Sonia, accompanied by all PCC presidents, would hand over the signatures to the President and seek action.
Then “something” happened and Sonia Gandhi pushed off to New York on a five-day visit allegedly for eliciting support of the non-resident Indians for the revitalisation process in the Congress party. Instead of seeking a fresh date from President K R Narayanan for submission of the signatures, she gave instructions to some AICC functionaries to take the truckloads of the bundles of signatures to the Rashtrapati Bhavan and present these to the President. Only a few newspapers took notice of it in a few lines on inside pages. What was expected to be a daring initiative against a corrupt government ended in a chaffy anti-climax.

It appears Sonia Gandhi is once again prepared to sell Congress party to the Narendra Modi-led NDA government for the sake of herself and her family members. The Congress may then continue with its whimpers but it will never be able to provide an effective opposition.


November 2017
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