In an earlier Column one had pointed out to reports about the Prime Minister seeming to be firm on amending the Right to Information Act under pressure from his bureaucrats. It was also reported that this was against the wishes of the Congress President Sonia Gandhi who was stoutly and rightly opposed to any tinkering with the freedoms given by the RTI Act. India is now witnessing the spectacle of Congress Ministers, Congress General Secretaries and former Congress Ministers openly and publicly questioning the Congress Government policies on matters of national security, internal security and foreign policy. It would have been unthinkable for Congressmen at any level only a few months back doing so and more so questioning Congress Government policies as they flow from decisions taken by the Congress President Sonia Gandhi. This trend prompts the question as to whether Congress President Sonia Gandhi is losing political grip over the Congress Party.
The latest incident and the most damaging in terms of India’s national security was the Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh while on a visit to China alluding that the Government’s policies on China in terms of keeping Chinese firms out of India’s security sensitive areas as reflective of India being paranoid about China and demonizing China, or words to this effect. This was a direct reflection on India’s Defense Minister Antony and Home Minister Chidambaram, both members of the Congress President’s Core Group of trusted advisers. Minister Ramesh would not have been oblivious to the political equations involved in his direct criticism and that to on Chinese soil fully aware that China figures as a major entity in India’s threat perceptions.
Twice Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and now a senior Congress Party General Secretary Digvijay Singh also recently indulged in serious criticism of Home Minister Chidambaram’s strong policies and strategy of dealing with the Maoist armed threats in Central and Eastern India. Surely, he would have been aware that the Home Minister’s strategy would have the sanction of the Congress President and the Core Group of the Congress Cabinet. Then why the public criticism by the Congress Party’s senior leader and an important functionary in the Congress Party Headquarters
Earlier too Digvijay Singh had questioned the Government version of the Batla House terrorism shootout in Delhi. To add fuel to the fire he visited Azamgarh area to which the Terrorists belonged which was being read widely as having sympathy with terrorist families. That time he offered a plea that he had gone on a fact finding mission. Was it required after Government agencies under the firm control of the Congress Government had officially ruled out any wrongdoing by the police and in which a promising brave-heart of Delhi Police got killed and was given a high gallantry award.
There have been other cases too where former Ministers and now Rajya Sabha members have questioned Congress Party and Congress Government’s policies especially in the foreign policy and internal security areas.
Some of the Congress Party official spokespersons have frivolously dismissed this trend as reflective of the openness in the Congress Party and the right to dissent that the Congress Party permits. One could have accepted this version if one was oblivious to the fact that within the Congress Party even in the selection of Chief Ministers of States under Congress rule the dictates go out from the Congress President and then notionally at the meeting of the Congress Legislature Party of the State concerned motions are gone through as if the nominee Chief Minister was democratically elected.
Somewhere something is brewing up within the Congress Party which has led to the emergence of this trend of public criticism of Congress Party Government’s policies in the national security and internal security areas. While it may be too early to conclusively assert that Sonia Gandhi is losing political grip over the Congress Party but the emerging trend does so indicate, even if faintly at present.