Yesterday one asked: “What’s wrong with Sonia?” Today one is compelled to ask: “What’s wrong with India ?” That the world’s largest democracy is so opaque as to keep its citizens in total darkness about the ailment of its most powerful political leader, Chairperson of the government’s National Advisory Council, Chairperson of the UPA government and the President of the ruling Indian National Congress, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, is mind boggling.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari responding to frantic queries from the media said: “Public personalities are entitled to a certain amount of privacy, especially when it concerns a medical condition.”
Nobody was seeking details about Mrs. Gandhi’s ailment. There were obvious and legitimate questions being asked that any democratic government is under obligation to answer. At first the Congress party spokesperson Janardhan Dwiwedi said that Mrs. Gandhi had been successfully operated upon. A little later he contradicted himself to state that the operation had not yet taken place but would be performed in a day or two. Most newspapers stuck with the first version. Nobody knew what the actual situation was.
The authorities could not state with certitude to which country Mrs. Gandhi had gone. They could not with certitude state to which hospital had she been admitted. Unofficially Congress sources mentioned the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York as Mrs. Gandhi’s destination. National dailies after approaching Sloan-Kettering could not get any confirmation.
The authorities could not with certitude state when precisely Mrs. Gandhi left India . One day before the disclosure of her departure Congress sources informed media that she suffered from mild viral fever in Delhi and would attend Parliament on Thursday. It is not clear therefore if Congress party leaders themselves know where Mrs. Gandhi is. One can only wonder if the security protocol has been observed and whether Mrs. Gandhi’s SPG is with her or not.
Does anyone in the government know where Mrs. Gandhi is?
All this is happening when the government is under the severest of attacks related to corruption. Cabinet ministers and chief ministers are being savagely targeted. And to cap it all Wikileaks has reportedly commenced revealing the names of leading Indian politicians who have had illegal foreign bank accounts. One website on the Internet has posted the first list of names. It reads like a who’s who of India ’s politicians. According to it the top leaders of the Congress, DMK, RJD and JDS have illegal foreign accounts. More names are expected to be released. Is this time appropriate for secrecy regarding the movements of India’s most important political leader?