Who said ‘when’ and ‘why’!
Congress General Secretary Mr. Digvijay Singh made a sensational confession by admitting that the Sonia-PM joint system of governing India has failed.
Earlier, deafening silence from both media and politicians had greeted a glaring contradiction highlighted in these columns. After the CBI raided DMK leader MK Stalin it was pointed out that officials contradicted each other suggesting that someone was lying. The CBI claimed that strict procedure was observed before conducting the raid. The Prime Minister and Finance Minister criticized the raid and claimed that it was conducted without their knowledge. The Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Mr. Narainasamy remained silent but the media was informed that he contacted Mr. Stalin after ascertaining facts from the CBI Director. Subsequently Mrs. Sonia Gandhi also echoed the PM and FM by publicly criticizing the CBI for conducting the raid.
The CBI is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act. According to Article 6A of this Act the CBI cannot
“conduct any enquiry or investigation into any offence alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act except with the previous approval of the Central Government where such allegation relates to…an Indian outside the State of Delhi … (or) the employees of the Central Government are of the level of Joint Secretary and above.”
Mr. Stalin resides outside Delhi and although not a government official is the President of an important alliance partner in the UPA government. Therefore the CBI could not have raided Mr. Stalin without sanction from the Central Government unless it violated procedure. But the CBI made an official statement that before the raid it “strictly observed procedure”.
The CBI is directly looked after by Mr. Narainasamy under supervision of the Prime Minister. If the CBI observed procedure it must have informed Mr. Narainasamy and received clearance before conducting the raid. But the Prime Minister claimed that he was not informed.
From these facts the following conjecture about what happened might be drawn.
Mr. Narainasamy was advised by Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi to conduct the raid. Mrs. Gandhi was focused only on Tamil Nadu politics and missed the larger implication about how the raid would affect the credibility of the Union Government. That is why after the PM and FM swiftly and sharply criticized the timing of the raid Mrs. Gandhi belatedly echoed them. But the fact remains that Mr. Narainasamy committed a serious procedural breach by not informing the PM and FM. Possibly he acted in good faith and according to the UPA tradition of giving prime importance to orders by Mrs. Gandhi.
Is this theory too farfetched? I do not think so. Otherwise why should Congress General Secretary Mr. Digvijay Singh have made his most remarkable statement? The media had refused to even allude to the glaring contradiction between the CBI and top UPA ministers related to the raid against Mr. Stalin that was exposed in these columns. Mr. Digvijay Singh is a staunch Sonia Gandhi loyalist and by popular perception will not sneeze without clearance from her.
What precisely did Mr. Digvijay Singh say? He said that Mr. Rahul Gandhi should not nominate a Prime Minister if the party got a majority in the next general election. Why not? Mr. Digvijay Singh said that the model of having “two power centres” had not worked well. He said:
“Personally, I feel that this model hasn't worked very well. Because, I personally feel that there should not be two power centres and I think whoever is the Prime Minister must have the authority to function although Sonia Gandhi has really never interfered in the functioning of the government.”
He was responding to the question whether Mr. Rahul Gandhi would follow his mother's model in future when she opted out and chose Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister after 2004 Lok Sabha polls. While making this first time sensational admission that the present diarchy consisting of the PM and UPA Chairperson was unworkable, he was at pains to state that both leaders were exemplary in their observance of constitutional norms.
For the first time a senior Congress party official has publicly admitted that the present system is incompatible with good governance. This has been something that this writer has constantly reiterated. It is fair to surmise that Mr. Digvijay Singh’s statement was inspired by Mrs. Gandhi. The admission is highly significant and may contain far reaching implications.
Although the media and opposition remained pathetically mute throughout the Stalin raid controversy it appears that the Congress leadership has reacted through this admission. I do not wish to gloat. On the contrary, assuming that my surmise is correct, I applaud Mrs. Gandhi for having recognized the flaw in the present system of governance.
Recognizing reality is the first step towards initiating reform. One hopes that this admission of systemic failure will be followed by steps for reform. Reform at this stage will not revive the UPA. But reform will revive democracy and preserve the system.