Friday, March 18, 2011

Unaccountable Governance

Today India faces a trust deficit and the person who comes to mind is an extraordinary gentleman called Morarji Desai. When Morarji Desai government went into minority, someone in his cabinet prepared a list to be given to the Speaker and the President. The list contained some names who had not yet declared support. Morarji Desai immediately took responsibility for this and said he would retire from public life. Such is the character needed to lead in a democracy. Does this not make Manmohan Singh look like a pygmy? Anything comes up and he says he does not know. Be it 2G scam or CWG or CVC appointment or the latest re-release on cash for vote scandal. He and Sonia Gandhi have hid behind a media created halo and escaped any kind of accountability.

Like never before India has a weird form of governance today. The person who is the PM has no authority and shies away from taking accountability on anything. He has a super PM who enjoys all the power but is never questioned. Then his cabinet is full of members who he hasn’t himself chosen as he had to practice ‘coalition dharma and so his cabinet colleagues are answerable to their respective leaders and fight amongst themselves. Then there is super kitchen cabinet which forms the policies for the government but has no constitutional authority. The NAC as the kitchen cabinet is called is a group of Super PM Sonia Gandhi’s ‘Kitty Party Friends’ and they have been given the power by her to overrule the PM while drafting the policies. Does this in any way sound like a democracy to you? Where does the accountability here lie and who will take the whip if anything goes wrong? No answers whatsoever from the ruling dispensation. Look at this funny irony. While NAC credits itself for bringing in Right to Information to improve transparency, NAC and Sonia Gandhi both are out of the purview of the RTI.

Accountability of the various institutions is the strong base on which a democracy thrives. And being accountable is a trait that is generally held by individuals or a group of such individuals. It is not a trait which can be thrust upon any person. So if accountability is not a value which an individual or an organization possesses, there is no way that it will take responsibility for any action or inaction. If this is someone who proves this in recent times, it is Indian PM Manmohan Singh. But it would be unfair to blame him alone for this because lack of accountability is an organizational disease in Congress. Except a few exceptions like Lal Bahadur Shastri, Madhavrao Scindia, rarely has one seen Congress leaders taking responsibility until and unless it is thumped on them from the High Command which is the Gandhi family.

If we go into history and see the early years after India’s partition, one can see how Jawaharlal Nehru ran the government like a dictator and surrounded by his coterie. Hardly anyone in modern India would have messed up on various policies as Krishna Menon but never was he questioned nor was he removed. Even after China debacle, when opposition asked for him resignation, Nehru used the old trick of ‘I would resign too’ to blunt the resignation demand. It’s just sad that India never got to learn the lessons from Nehru and Menon’s mistakes as they thwarted attempts for facts to be brought up. Jawaharlal Nehru in his entire tenure was averse to taking blame for any mistakes. Infact as one of his biographer Walter Crocker’s said in his books – Nehru was averse to answering questions from colleagues and subordinates as he thought they could not match up to his intellectual levels and he had no time for fools. What Nehru did not realize was that such feudal arrogance in initial days of Indian democracy would set a bad precedent.

The precedent that Nehru set was followed by Congress at times with more stubborn and arrogant behavior. Indira never apologized to the nation for the murder of democracy and the excesses the countrymen faced during the emergency. She went about her PMship with a total disdain for counter questions or oppositions. She went on creating Frankensteins like Bindranwale, illegal Bangladeshis and corruption but she never felt the need to tell why was she doing what she was doing. When confronted her answer was always “Foreign hand trying to destabilize India”. Stalwarts like Jayaprakash Narayan, Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee all were at some or the other point in time called Foreign Agents by the Congress just to silence opposition.

Then came her son Rajiv Gandhi who possibly broke all the records in Parliamentary democracy by lying blatantly in Parliament. When confronted by the corruption over Bofors, Rajiv Gandhi lied in the Parliament that any kickback was paid. His bluff was soon called by brave journalists’ like Arun Shourie. But the man never felt remorse for lying to the Parliament. Nor did he ever feel remorse for presiding over the largest genocide this country has seen post partition. He infact justified it in his famous words about the tree and earth shake. Rajiv Gandhi carried on his activity of subverting constitution with a dangerous mix of communal politics. Be it Shah Bano case or the elections in Assam and Meghalaya. He tried to alter the Indian constitution on basis of religious vote banks. And he did that by riding on a brute majority. Who can forget his actions of IPKF or the dreaded rigged elections of Jammu and Kashmir? There was a scope for course correction or introspection in his politics and policies.

The curse continues today with Sonia Gandhi ruling India but without any form of accountability to either people of India, parliament or to constitution. The indications are that her son Rahul Gandhi is keen to continue the same trend by his continuous refusal to take up ministerial post but by constant meddling in important affairs of the ministry. How long will India have to play slave to such feudal mindset. When will the patience get over and tough questions asked of the Nehru Gandhi parivaar? Will we continue to remain a colony even after 6 decades of independence? The choice is with the people. Raise your voice and ask uncomfortable questions, answers for which have never been given to you so far.

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