Posts Tagged ‘Sonia Gandhi’
The mother-son duo may now consider leasing out State Congress units to the highest bidders for specified periods, with the understandable clauses incorporated in the agreement, such as, no criticism, in any form, of mother and son will be permitted, full weightage will be given to the advice of the ‘controlling authority’ (meaning high command in Delhi) in the selection of candidates for Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, certain quotas will be fixed for the high command in the selection of candidates for Assemblies, and so on. This will bring, on a regular basis, good amounts of funds to the coffers in AICC. More importantly, it will check waywardness presently witnessed in State Congress units all over the country. In any case, the State party bosses are running the organisation as if it has been leased out to them with the minus point that others in the State do not accept it.
It’s now ages that one has seen a State unit of the grand old party working in cohesion anywhere in the country, or the high command taking any firm steps to ensure at least a semblance of unity in the party. Not infrequently, the high command has shown utter unconcern for the workings in the State units. Take, for instance, the matter of Leader of Opposition in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly. The rules prescribe that a meeting of the party MLAs will be convened specifically for the election of the Leader. A formal resolution will be adopted for the purpose. Election may be unanimously or by a majority vote. The copy of the resolution will be communicated to the Speaker of the Assembly in a prescribed manner. The Speaker announces his approval in the Assembly. Then only he/she becomes Leader of Opposition.
In Madhya Pradesh, an observer of AICC or the AICC general secretary in charge of Madhya Pradesh gets signatures of party MLAs on a single-line resolution authorising Sonia Gandhi to name the Leader. The general secretary in-charge then gets the signature of Sonia Gandhi and a copy of that is sent to the Speaker somehow and the Speaker promptly gives his approval. This happened in the last Assembly when Ajay Singh (Rahul Bhaiya) was the ‘Leader of Opposition’ and this happened in the present Assembly when Satyadev Katare is the ‘Leader of Opposition’. On both the occasions, even after getting Sonia Gandhi’s approval, it was not felt necessary to convene a meeting of MLAs to fulfil the formality of adopting the required resolution. If the Speaker did not point out the irregularities in election of the Leader and in communication to the Speaker, it was because it suited the ruling BJP.
The MLAs do not give due regard to the Leader because they feel they were not directly involved even in the so-called election, with the result that the Leader keeps gets his substantial perks as Leader of Opposition, hobnobs with the ruling bosses who are always eager to please him and his small coterie. MLAs work almost independently in the Assembly, sometimes even working at cross purposes. Occasionally meetings of Legislature Party are convened to discuss ‘party strategy’ in the House but only rarely a concerted effort of the party was seen to corner the government.
In Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh has been made the PCC chief, not for his life-long dedication to the Congress or that he enjoys support and confidence of all party activists. He has been hopping between Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal and had been a votary of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution seeking ultimately a separate Khalistan and later was signatory to the succession document known as Amritsar Declaration after the 1984 storming of the Golden Temple to flush out the Bhindrawale gang of terrorists. A scion of the powerful erstwhile kingdom of Patiala, he is a dashing politician, has money and knows how to use that. But he would not allow other party chiefs to function and when he is the party chief he wants total loyalty like a former Maharaj of Patiala which all Congress leaders cannot do. Those who have been removed from positions because of him feel particularly piqued at his style of functioning.
The Captain’s clout
His clout can be gauged from the facts that the Congress party lost Assembly elections twice under his stewardship, held, in an interview to The Indian Express, Rahul Gandhi’s ‘divisive policies’ within the party for the debacle of the Congress in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The paper quoted him as having said, ‘I told him pre-2012 that ‘You will divide each village, which will have its own Youth Congress, and that means it will get divided right to the top; even parents take sides in such a situation, we will have problem’. He didn’t listen and that is exactly what happened’.
Anyone else, if he had said such things about Rahul Gandhi, would have been shown his place. But not the Captain. He has been made the PCC chief to run not the Congress party but his own faction as he is doing now on the eve of the Assembly elections.
With a similar mindset, Digvijaya Singh, too, does not allow anyone to run the party smoothly. When Arun Yadav was made PCC chief he started his job with apparent enthusiasm. At the first meeting of PCC, Jagdish Yadav, PCC secretary and a friend of Arun Yadav, described as inauspicious the name of Digvijaya Singh. He was promptly suspended, which gave a clear message to the party workers that new PCC chief Arun Yadav would not tolerate ‘indiscipline’ by any party leader or worker, even though he may be his personal fried. However, before the day was out, Digvijaya Singh called Arun Yadav (and also made it public) that suspension of Jagdish Yadav should be revoked as he (Jagdish Yadav) was a dedicated Congressman. Many Congressmen were surprised to know Digvijaya Singh’s latest views about Jagdish Yadav because he was never known to have liked Jagdish Yadav or any Yadav leader for that matter. Thus snubbed publicly even for working in the party interest, Arun Yadav lost whatever zeal he had and started on the safe path of running his own faction in the party and, in the process, inviting unsavoury allegations. The party high command was not concerned.
When Suresh Pachauri was PCC chief in Madhya Pradesh, (the late) Jamuna Devi was the Leader of Opposition. A rival Congress leader of Jamuna Devi from her Dhar district brought 200 persons to Bhopal. They held a demonstration against Jamuna Devi and presented a memorandum to Pachauri seeking removal of Jamuna Devi. Pachauri entertained them properly, gladly accepted the memorandum and assured them that he would take it to the Congress president. Irrespective of whether he took it to the Congress president, the party high command never tried to stem the rot. The two continued in their separate ways, often working against each other. However, Jamuna Devi never betrayed the party interests. Pachauri did with impunity.
Uttarakhand and Assam are recent history. The Congress high command never tried to stem the rot which had long been going on in the two States. If the Congress government was saved in Uttarakhand, it was because of judicial intervention for which Arun Jaitley (read Modi government) is seething with anger and must be thinking of some ways to show the Judiciary its place. Assam has slipped away from the hands of Congress. Now it fears the crisis of existence in the entire North-East as well as in the South Indian States where high command has never stepped in to bring the warring groups within the party together.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been preparing the ground for allowing US military presence on Indian territory. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter have been negotiating the issue for over a year and much advancement is reported to have been made. They jointly announced during Carter’s recent visit to New Delhi that India and the United States have ‘agreed in principle to share military logistics.’ The two, it appears, have decided to release only bits of negotiations periodically for fear of the possible strong reaction of the people of India towards allowing the US, or any other country for that matter, to use Indian territory for its military purposes.
It may start by establishing army repair shops in India. The two countries have almost finalised a Logistics Support Agreement that allows the two militaries to use each other’s land, air and naval bases for supplies, repair and rest. Both sides claim that this has become inevitable to ‘counter the growing maritime assertiveness of China.’
It has been repeatedly emphasised by both sides that there is no question of stationing US troops on Indian soil. ‘As and when a situation arises, like an earthquake or a natural disaster, that is when it is directed at’, Carter announced. Parrikar said, ‘it is a concept of logistics support’ to provide ‘support for each other’s platform where they need fuel and supplies.’ The Wall Street Journal has quoted an unnamed Indian Naval Officer as having said: ‘since coming to power two years ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has strengthened strategic and defence ties with the US, while avoiding the steps that could provoke a major reaction from Beijing.’ The Indian officer further said: ‘there is no ammunition involved, no combat operations. We are not talking about positioning men in each other’s countries.’
America has been coveting Indian territory for use of its armed forces ever since India got independence. Nehru resisted it diplomatically all his years as Prime Minister. He did not succumb to the pressure even when the Chinese assertiveness had ceased to be a mere perception but become real as that country had advanced its troops on Indian territory. Indira Gandhi virtually snubbed America during the Bangladesh war when that arrogant super-power threatened to destroy India with its legendary nuclear-powered Seventh Fleet. Even Atal Behari Vajpayee considered it terribly against the national interests of India to allow Indian territory to be used by a foreign power for its military activities. The Chandra Shekhar government had, though, allowed the US armed forces the refuelling facilities in India during the 1991 Iraq conflict and there were widespread protests within the country.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the UPA government was inclined to accede to the US request for closer military cooperation. However, Defence Minister A K Antony, reportedly with the full backing of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, stood firm against any military relationship between India and America, and was jeered at by pro-American sections as a Leftist.
Apprehensions in India about allowing military bases on its territory are based on the history of colonial period. The powerful nations had sought a foothold for some small military operation or commercial activity and had eventually occupied the host country.
During one of the visits of the US Defence Secretary to India, the USS Blue Ridge, the flagship of the US Seventh Fleet, was on a port call off Goa coast. The principal tasks of the USS Blue Ridge include providing command, control, communications, computers and intelligence support to the commander and staff of the US Seventh Fleet. Defence Secretary Carter took Defence Minister Parrikar on a tour of the USS Blue Ridge. Parrikar was said to be simply overawed by that majestic machine of destruction.
The US military experts estimate between 662 and 900 military bases in 38 countries. According to the official information provided by the US Department of Defence and its Defence Manpower Data Centre (DMDC), there are still about 40,000 US troops, and 179 US bases in Germany, over 50,000 troops (and 109 bases) in Japan, and tens of thousands of troops, with hundreds of bases, all over Europe. Over 28,000 US troops are present in 85 bases in South Korea, and have been there since 1957.
According to David Vine, Associate Professor of Anthropology at American University, Washington DC, who has specialised on US defence affairs, the Pentagon claims to have just 64 ‘active major installations’ overseas and that most of its base sites are ‘small installations or locations.’ But it defines ‘small’ as having a value of up to $915 million. ‘In other words, small can be no small.’
The information about troops abroad, too, isn’t completely clear, which ‘makes it difficult to know the true extent of the American military footprint,’ Professor Vine writes.