GANDHI’S HISTRIONICS ARE A DISPLAY OF OVER- CONFIDENCE
Rahul Gandhi is getting to speak without the aid of a paper. That is good. But what is not is what he says, or rather made to say, by his background minders. He should get a better scriptwriter. For, the gravitas you would associate with someone who wants to become Prime Minister is missing. It is never polite to use words like kacchara and chamcha. Why debase the public discourse even if you are unable to explain your own conduct? Now, whether Prime Ministership of India should be an entry-level job is for the people to decide, but so long as the Family controls the party, Congressmen must sing hallelujahs to him in unison.
This past week, the Gandhi scion performed a cameo with a doting mother approvingly watching along with a group of fawning durbaris. The occasion was the birth anniversary of Indira Gandhi. The party had made some effort to mark the day, hoping to renew its connect with the poor. After a long time, people saw large-sized hoardings bearing Indira Gandhi’s images on some of the main thoroughfares in the capital. When the present seems bleak, the tendency clearly is to rely on an exaggerated past to try and make something of the future.
Anyway, Rahul took the focus away from his controversial grandmother, choosing instead to defend himself by daring the Narendra Modi government to “jail” him for allegedly listing himself as a British citizen while registering a company in the UK. He did not deny the charge first made by Subramanian Swamy and subsequently confirmed by the British government. Nor did he explain the need to register a company in a foreign country, when he could jolly well have done the same in India, unless there was money to be made, or laundered, by setting up a company in Britain and by declaring himself a British national.
We will come to the British-registered company in a moment. But Rahul Gandhi’s feigned dare to put him in jail seemed to be of a piece with the equally hysteric response of his late father when the Bofors heat had got too close to him. Rajiv Gandhi too had felt obliged to affirm his honesty, saying that neither he nor his family had taken money in the Swedish gun deal. The country believed that the Gandhis were implicated in the scam fronted by their close family friend, Ottavio Quattrocchi. Subsequent events confirmed that the Italian had pocketed the bribes. And he did so because he was sharing the loot with those swinging such big deals his way.
But in the case of Blackops, the company registered by Rahul with one Ulrik Robert Mcknight, a foreigner most probably of Swedish nationality, not a word has been said either by him or the underlings who pass for as party spokespersons. But the questions remain. i) Why would he float a company in the UK; ii) what business it was engaged in; iii) who is Mcknight and; iv) why and under what circumstances in the annual reports of the company did Rahul declare himself a British national?
His challenge to the Modi government should be put in perspective. It stems from the knowledge that the way the investigating agencies and the judicial system work it is always hard for anyone to be brought to book, much less someone as influential as Rahul. Also, the Bofors precedent is encouraging. Remember, despite fitful efforts by the non-Congress governments to apprehend Quattrocchi, no harm had come to him thanks to the active help from his “family friends” in India.
In fact, Quattrocchi got to keep the loot, with our honest Prime Minister Manmohan Singh dispatching post haste a senior law officer to open the sealed London bank account in which part of the Bofors bribes were kept. Small wonder then the Gandhi scion chose to roll up his sleeves and challenge the government. Who can jail him? Particularly when his latest political mate and the fodder scam convict, Lalu Yadav, still roams free, lording over the newly-made Bihar sarkar of an equally honest Nitish Kumar.
But Rahul’s braggadocio does not answer Swamy’s charges. In fact, what followed the dissolution of the UK-registered company was no less suspicious. It seemed his UK partner, Mcknight, now floated a company in India and, not unlike Quattrocchi, started handling lucrative Indian government contracts. A couple of fishy individuals teamed up with Mcknight, who because of the Rahul connection seemed to have no difficulty getting defence ministry works. By the way, Mcknight, also a foreign national like Quattrocchi, too has a close Congress connection, having been married to the daughter of a minister in the Rajiv Gandhi government.
Now, instead of diverting attention through histrionics a la his parents in the Bofors scam, the Congress vice-president should provide answers to a few relevant questions. He should not elevate himself to the position of the Congress president under a thick cloud of suspicion and mistrust. How the Gandhis have always managed to live like the maharajas of yore without having an ostensible source of income must be told to the voters before they are asked to elect him Prime Minister. Unless, of course, fishy companies like Blackops are floated to be used as receptacles for illicit funds from those who get favours from the Gandhi durbar.
AIYAR IN PAKISTAN: A CASE OF FREUDIAN SLIP
Mani Shankar Aiyar is an intellectual, a fact further confirmed when the UPA nominated him to the Rajya Sabha in the newly-minted “intellectual” category. Therefore, nobody is surprised by the gems he is prone to deliver every now and then. After all, what use is an intellectual bejeweled with high degrees from some of the best universities in the world if he cannot occasionally shock the lay people with his wisdom and erudition. So, his simple mantra that removing Modi will automatically improve relations with Pakistan — most helpfully offered to Pakistanis on Pakistani soil — should not have surprised you. That is typical Maniesque, if you please.
But we are on a slightly different point. The in-house Congress intellectual appealed to Pakistanis on one of their more popular television channels that they should remove Modi and bring back his party to power. Now, you will wonder how could poor Pakistanis remove Modi and bring Mani’s party to power, given that only bona fide Indian nationals can vote in the Indian elections. Being an intellectual, did Mani know something ordinary Indians didn’t, especially when he is a confirmed secularist to boot?
A Freudian slip or not, Mani reflected the ingrained belief in secularist circles that being “soft” on Pakistan endears them to Indian Muslims and helps ensnare their votes. If Amit Shah talked of Pakistanis celebrating the BJP defeat in Bihar, conscious that Muslims generally do not vote for his party, Mani asked Pakistanis to remove Modi, believing that Indian Muslims looked up to our hostile western neighbour for guidance and instructions.
Since Shah lays no claim to being an intellectual, the question arises as to what is the difference between him and the intellectual Aiyar. There is. Shah is not welcome in Pakistan. And they lay the reddest of red carpets for Aiyar in Pakistan.