It should not come as a surprise that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is either a confused man, or an intellectual coward. He is trying to defend the India-US civilian nuclear deal on the basis of his personal integrity. He says, "Believe me. What I am doing is for the good of the country." This is the surly atttiude of a self-rigteous man, not that of the leader of a billion people of a democratic polity. Staking his personal integrity as the barometer of the rightness of the nuclear deal is somehow not the way politics and foreign policy should be conducted.
It seems that Singh is afraid of sharing all the uncomfortable implications of the deal. He is aware of it himself. He is selling the deal on the most unconvincing plank -- India's growing energy needs, and the imperative to tap nuclear power. It is at most a small detail of the whole deal.
The communists have smelled the rat. They know that this is not just about nuclear power. They know that it means that India is becoming part of the new grand alliance that the United States is trying to build up in the world. Perhaps the Americans are justified in doing what they are doing. The question to be asked is: Is it in India's national interets to be part of the American alliance? Prime Minister Singh seems to believe that it is in India's interest to go along with the Americans. But he does not have the courage of his conviction to say so openly. He is also a bad politician who does not know how to hide his pro-American sentiments.
There is nothng wrong or evil about being pro-American. But one should say so upfront. It will help the debate. The urban middle class in India is with Manmohan Singh. And the representatives of this despicable class in the media and in the strategic community are speaking like Yankee-cheerleaders, like unpaid Washington lobbyists in India. So, these people have been attacking the communists with great ferocity, much like dedicated mercenaries. Ambassador Ronen Sen's remark about the Opposition politicians, especially the Left, of lacking in self-confidence after 60 years of independence is an expression of the hatred of the middle class for the communists. The middle class is always treacherous. It is not to be believed. Manmohan Singh is a shining icon of this middle class.
So, the picture is quite murky. The mass of the people are sought to be bamboozled by deceptive straw-polls, favouring Manmohan Singh, supporting the nuclear deal.
But Manmohan Singh will not have the courage to go to the people and ask for an endorsement of his plan to make India go along with the Americans in the world arena. He knows that the people will throw him out of office.
He did not have the courage 16 years ago to tell the people of the need for economic reforms. Like a bureaucrat, he ushered it in secretively. It is for this reason that economic reforms are viewed with suspicion by common people.
Singh is a bureaucrat. He does not deserve to be the leader of India. That is the plain truth. He can formulate policy, and implement it. But he cannot talk to people about what he is doing. For that you need a leader. There is no such leader in the country today.
To a certain extent, Atal Bihari Vajpayee coulds have done it. But he too lacked conviction and courage and he was too much of a small-time politician to be a visionary and a statesman.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
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