On June 7th Boloji had reported that an Inner War in the UPA had begun. The events that occurred after the report appeared seem to completely falsify that surmise. Indeed, following that report newfound warmth has started to sweep across the UPA. Several incidents confirm this hopeful development. A little before the report appeared Mr Sharad Pawar was admitted in a Mumbai hospital. It is not known precisely why. His daughter Ms Supriya Sule, MP, refused to disclose the cause of her father’s hospitalization. She said: “We are a very private family.” She was absolutely right of course. The family is so private that nobody was even told anything about involvement in the IPL bids.
Hospital sources denied that Mr Pawar was afflicted with anything serious. “He appeared fit when he entered hospital,” one staffer said. There is speculation in fact that soon after leaving hospital Mr Pawar will fly to America. Nonetheless Mr Pranab Mukherjee flew from Delhi to Mumbai simply to call on the Maharashtra strong man. Congress circles denied any significance in this visit, insisting that it was simply a courtesy call. Such unusual courtesy is indeed a sign of newer, warmer times.
It is not known whether Mr Mukhjerjee was displaying his singular courtesy or also representing the courtesy of others. As his party’s most effective trouble shooter Mr Mukherjee has interacted with many politicians and acquired friends in all places. This is not to suggest of course that his loyalty ever wavers. Mr Mukherjee is always loyal to himself. Mr Bal Thackeray’s unkind remarks did not succeed in cooling the UPA warmth. Mr Thackeray alleged that Mrs Sonia Gandhi was conspiring against Mr Pawar and was the source of all the unkind things said in the media about his very private involvement in the IPL bids.
Meanwhile senior leader from neighouring Madhya Pradesh, Mr Arjun Singh, exuded his own dose of newfound warmth. Even as the nation was rocked by the Bhopal gas tragedy court judgment, the reclusive, retired, ailing leader, after the newspaper report alleging inner war in the UPA had appeared, made one of his very rare sojourns outside his residence to call on Mrs Sonia Gandhi at 10 Janpath. One doubts if Mr Singh took the initiative to meet the Highest Command. Undoubtedly he was summoned. Mr Singh had been disgraced through his unceremonious removal from the cabinet. He was further humiliated by his party’s shocking violation of one holy, cardinal principle. His daughter was denied a ticket to contest for parliament. Since when have the progeny of senior Congress leaders ever been denied entry to parliament? Despite this, Mr Singh received audience at 10 Janpath. Why?
Could it be that the current controversy raging around the Bhopal gas tragedy has revived unanswered questions? During Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure as Prime Minister Mr Singh was Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister when the tragedy occurred. It was Mr Singh’s government that arrested Union Carbide Chief Warren Anderson when the latter visited Bhopal. But then, as media has reported, a mystery phone call came. Hurriedly Anderson was given bail and the CM’s own aircraft flew him to Delhi. From there Anderson under the nose of the Union government escaped to the US.
The question is who could be so powerful to make one phone call that persuaded the CM to turn turtle and facilitate Anderson’s escape? Who could have allowed Anderson to escape to the US from the capital of India? This mystery has never been cleared. Mr Arjun Singh remains mum. One can imagine how much odium against Anderson’s unknown benefactor Arjun Singh’s disclosure could create if he chose to spill the beans. Could it be that Mrs Sonia Gandhi wanted to be enlightened about this unsolved mystery? Was that why Mr Arjun Singh was summoned to 10 Janpath?
One cannot tell. One may only speculate. What can be said with certainty is that some newfound warmth seems to be entering the UPA in unexpected quarters. Can one hope that such warmth will also extend from 10 Janpath to Mr Arjun Singh very soon? Let us watch further signs of such warmth. Let us hope it continues to spread.