Edit & Opinion

Our Pygmy Leaders: Looking for giants

A fundamental principle of a civilised nation is that in times of war, the polity displays cohesiveness and rallies around the leader. The vitriolic negative tu-tu-mein-mein battle royale between the Congress and BJP being played out over Chinese incursions in Eastern Ladakh, the Galwan Valley, Pangong Tso, Desang up to the Y-junction etc turns this dictum on its head.

As Prime Minister Modi faces his toughest challenge and his Government is busy formulating a response to the formidable challenge posed by the Chinese threat, trust a desperate Congress to extract political mileage by its calumny accusing the BJP of playing a “diabolical game of deception” to divert attention from the alleged ‘Chinese occupation of Indian territory’.

The Grand Dame also brought out past instances of the BJP’s engagement with China’s ruling Communist Party to question Modi on what results did his Party’s bonhomie with the Chinese Establishment have for India. Modi as Gujarat Chief Minister visited China four times, then as Prime Minister five times, and invited Chinese President Xi Jinping to India three times and met 18 times in the last six years.

Adding, “When Modi and the Chinese Premier were sitting together on the banks of the Sabarmati, at the same time the Chinese were carrying out incursions in Ladakh’s Chumar valley. Finally when the Chinese withdrew, it was a conditional withdrawal and we agreed to those conditions… then in 2017 came the Doklam standoff and ever since there have been reports of large scale construction activity continuing by China in Doklam,”

Again, in May 2014, the BJP came to power and in November the Party sent 13 MPs and MLAs to China to strengthen relations between the two ruling Parties and study the Chinese political system. It questioned the Sangh on what the Chinese Global Times meant by stating, “China finds itself very comfortable working with Mr. Modi”

“Is it also not correct that in January 2011, the then BJP President Nitin Gadkari took a delegation of the BJP to China and held detailed consultations. Were they anti-India consultations? Is it not correct the RSS held consultations on strategic issues of Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet with the Communist Party of China politburo members in 2009, though it isn’t a political Party. And in 2008 the BJP received a Chinese delegation and held confabulations with them.

It reminded the Prime Minister “he must be mindful of the implications of his words” and “cannot allow China to use them as a vindication of its position”. Further, instead of the Government preparing to hit back at China and recapture its territory lost in the Galwan valley it was targeting the Congress to hide its own “strategic blunders”.

Countered the BJP, there is a secret relationship between Congress and China. These people take funds from China and then conduct studies that are not in the interest of the country. During Congress-led UPA rule in 2005-6 the “family-run” Rajiv Gandhi Foundation took $300,000 from People’s Republic of China and the Chinese embassy to carry out these studies on free trade agreement between India and China and suggested it to be beneficial to India. At the same time the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund too donated money to the RGF.

Sarcasticlly asserting, “You take $300,000 donation and teach us nationalism. Haathi ke daant dikhaneke aur khane ke alag hote hain. Who sat on the PMNRF board? Smt. Sonia Gandhi. Who chairs RGF? Smt. Sonia Gandhi. The PMNRF donated money to RGF thrice when the UPA was in power. This is brazen fraud and totally reprehensible.”

The BJP also accused former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of “abjectly surrendering” hundreds of square kilometres of India’s land to China and presiding over 600 incursions made by the neighbouring country between 2010 and 2013. The mistakes of one family made us lose 43,000 sq km of land.”

Raising a moot point: How does merely questioning the Government on action taken, intelligence failure or criticizing the Government tantamount to being a desh drohi? Have are netagan lost their ability to handle criticism? Bordering on a narcissist phobia? Is it mere coincidence or a sign of an increasingly knee-jerk, reactionary country? Should a debate become litmus of one’s patriotism?’ And is nationalism per se a justification to stifle critique?

Arguably, it’s not the tu-tu-mein-mein which worries me, an issue which will die its natural death within days. However, this time round what greatly troubles one is that these ‘small minds’ have willy nilly made a gulli-danda of national security. What one is concerned about is that our leaders only want to score brownie points It is nobody’s contention that uncomfortable questions regarding national security should not be raised. But that is a topic for another day and another time when the immediate threat has faded.

True, it can be argued that the on-going shenanigans over Chinese incursion in Eastern Ladakh replete with petty games of one-upmamship played out on the political chessboard by the Congress and BJP are things we have grown accustomed to by a petty self-serving polity, which thinks only of me, mine and myself.

Of a political landscape dotted with politico-criminals in their “bullet-proof jackets” —- MPs and MLAs tag replete with scams and scandals unlimited. Of netas who have merrily converted offices of public services into private profit and justify their wrongs as in public interest. Failing to realize the disconnect between the jan sevak and the janata.

Clearly, India is going through a unique dynamics due to the shortage of leadership bringing things to such a pass whereby our Indian political class is completely disengaged with issues of national import and long term national well-being. Neither do they have the time for what is a real threat to our nation State and external security.

Alas, nitpicking and scepticism rule the roost rather than objective analysis. The current imbroglio suffers the same fate as Parties instead of raising questions behind closed doors do so publicly. The Congress, which has ruled the country for 70 years should show restraint as it knows only too well that the Government of the day has the country’s best interest at heart.

The Modi Sarkar is equally guilty. Instead of debriefing the Opposition on the seriousness of the threat it is busy in perception management and scoring points. Are they so paranoid or intolerant that questions on national security or any act of criticism is viewed as a threat to the nation? As the Government it should take criticism in its stride, instead of reading every question as an act of “anti-national.

Undoubtedly, dissent and debate are the cornerstone of democracy and respecting differing opinions is paramount. But not at the cost at the cost of national security as it undermines national resolve and attempts to demoralise defence forces while an expansionist power hovers menacingly at our borders.

At the end of the day, our leaders who reduce the level of discourse to such depths only do so at the cost of exposing their lack of civility to the nation at large. Leaving India dangerously divided as the hectoring will only serve to weaken the national resolve.

The time has come for the people to look at the perilous implications of the on-going BJP-Congress acrimonious mud-slinging on the unity, integrity and the future of the country. People, no doubt, get the leaders and the Government they deserve. Certainly, criticism is a sign of a thriving and robust democracy.

Yet, at the end of the day, the strength of democracy is largely determined by the ability of its leaders to discharge their duties honourably. The moot point: Are we going to mortgage our conscience to ‘small minds’? Allow petty leaders to recklessly play havoc with India?  How long are we going to continue to look for giants among the pygmies and let them to ride-roughshod over us? Will they rise to the challenges facing the country? To stand up and be counted?

 

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