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EDITORIAL: Defending A Lost Cause

It is expected of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to come to the rescue of his fellow colleagues in Government, not only in the Congress but also in the parties which are partners in the UPA Government, whenever they find themselves at the receiving end of the Opposition parties, but there is also something called the dividing line between what is defensible and what is not. In politics this may not be as clear as in the real life experience of the average man and woman, but a political leader is expected to understand this and more importantly for a man like Manmohan Singh, whose personal integrity is above board, this is all the more important, lest the image he portrays and the respect he enjoys because of his clean reputation is put at risk, every time he sticks his neck out to lend a helping hand to a fellow colleague.

Being honest by itself is no doubt important, but in public life such as being the Prime Minister of a country like India, it is equally important, if not more so, to ensure that the honesty is shown and known to all. This should not be interpreted or reduced to the level of crowing about one’s own quality but letting each and every action of the individual concerned speak the language of honesty and integrity. This is where Dr Manmohan Singh needs to tread carefully for a man occupying the post of the Prime Minister cannot remain just being a man of integrity but it should also appear to be so to the general public. This observation is necessitated by some recent examples, where the UPA Government has been caught in embarrassing situations one after the other.

It is harvest time for the Opposition, particularly the BJP and the Left parties, especially in the backdrop of the large sum of money which have reportedly disappeared to line the pockets of the Kalmadis and his next of kith and kins. Yes, the money we are talking about here involves the ham-handed manner in which the preparations for the Commonwealth Games hosted by India last year, was dragged over a bed of fire to test its purity and sanctity. Kalmadi is reportedly being questioned and some people deemed to have had their share of the loot are today facing the heat from the CBI.

A Raja, the erstwhile Union Minister of the Department of Telecommunications, may be subjected to the seemingly endless round of quizzing and interrogation by the CBI, other than being forced to step down, but the fact remains that this episode too has hurt the image of the Prime Minister, not because he had dipped his hand into the loot but because the initial inertia shown by the Congress party in taking up due action against Raja was seen as a desperate attempt not to rock the coalition Government and rightfully, questions were raised whether the Prime Minister had willfully agreed to provide the protective shield to the disgraced Minister or not. 2G Spectrum as they called it in its technical term, is what spelt doom for A Raja though its ricocheting effect on the Prime Minister and the Congress party is yet to be seen prominently, it already has cast some sort of a shadow over the image of the Prime Minister.

Julian Assange, the Editor-in-Chief of WikiLeaks, who has turned the concept and understanding of classified information on its head and made many faces turn with red with anger and embarrassment, did not waste his words in observing that the Prime Minister’s reaction to the report in WikiLeaks on corruption in India, where he (Manmohan Singh) expressed doubt on the veracity of the report,  said that he “finds that statement (of the PM) a deliberate, knowing attempt to mislead the Indian population.”  This was the observation carried in the April 12 edition of The Hindu, in a one to one with its Chief Editor N Ram. To many, Assange may come across as a cross breed between a villain and a whistle blower, while to some, he may be personified with the term, transparency itself. Whatever the case may be, whether one hates his tactics or loves him for coming out with all the interesting tid-bits of the people in power, one thing is for sure and that is, the understanding of classified information will see a new avatar or a new interpretation.

Whistle blowers may be seen as the enemy or champion of the common people, according to one’s position and perception, but there is just no way one can ignore Assange or more precisely what is reported in WikiLeaks. Questioning the credibility or veracity of the report of Wiki-Leaks is perhaps the first wrong step that Dr Manmohan Singh has taken as Prime Minister and what is more, it is anyone’s guess what impact the observation of Assange or the report will have on the persona of Manmohan Singh.

The unnecessary expenditure for the preparation of the Commonwealth Games, the 2G Spectrum scam, the Adarsh Housing scandal involving the top honchos of the defense establishment and co-incidentally the protest raised by Gandhian Anna Hazare, demanding more teeth to the Lok Pal Bill as well as more room for members from the civil society organizations to take part in drafting the Bill, to effectively fight corruption, all have combined to present a perfect rhythm of the pulse and sentiments running through the 1.2 billion population of India, or at least half of this total population. This is a call to Dr Manmohan Singh to tread more cautiously in the future, for no matter how clean he is, if he is seen as a leader trying to protect the corrupt in his flock, then it would amount to almost the same thing, which is cheating and misleading the people of India.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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