After books authored by former bureaucrats recounting conditions within the UPA government hit the stands, vindicating what many observers had opined earlier, common wisdom ascribes personal motives to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi for curbing the authority of Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh. The most common reasons attributed to Mrs. Gandhi are that she wanted to facilitate corruption by her ministers to fund her party, and that she wanted to facilitate the induction of Mr. Rahul Gandhi to the Prime Minister’s post. Neither reason stands the scrutiny of the actual situation. Mrs. Gandhi could in any case have had her way with the PM regarding key decisions leaving no room for differences. And she could always induct Mr. Rahul Gandhi with the PM willing to cooperate in every conceivable manner.
Yet, there were differences. Why did they occur?
The most significant fact confirmed by Mr. Sanjaya Baru’s book, The Accidental Prime Minister, is that the only time when the PM threatened to resign, and the only time when Mrs. Gandhi reluctantly had to retreat, was when the PM insisted on going through with the Indo-US nuclear deal and Mrs. Gandhi did everything she could to scuttle it. Thereby hangs a tale. The nuclear deal was the Lakshman Rekha for both sides and Mrs. Gandhi retreated for tactical reasons. Ultimately she had her way. Nothing came of the deal. And eventually aided by the vast lobby encompassing the bureaucracy and large sections of the political opposition, the nuclear deal was reduced to only a scrap of paper. India’s energy resources were not augmented, and Indo-US relations became much worse.
What did differences over the Indo-US nuclear deal indicate? To put it very simply, America sought the deal to establish an Indo-US strategic alliance. Those who wittingly or unwittingly served the interests of China did everything possible to scuttle it. The nuclear deal was opposed by the CPI-M as well as by the BJP. Therefore did leaders of both parties advance China’s interests? To put it bluntly, yes! The CPI-M acted wittingly, the BJP unwittingly. BJP leaders and a large number of media analysts are not manipulated directly from Beijing. It is China’s lobby that has infiltrated America, and which dominates sections of the corporate world that control media, which through incentives can influence the Indian elite without its members even realizing whose interests they actually serve. That is how classic subversion works. That is what J Edgar Hoover in his classic treatise, Masters of Deceit, had described.
Foreign masterminds create an army of dupes led by a few agents. India has its share of both. Witness how Indian politicians castigate Pakistan and enhance a hugely adverse balance of trade with China which is crippling our manufacturing sector of industry. The irony is that Pakistan is nuclear and missile armed courtesy China. Islamabad acts as Beijing’s proxy against India. As for Beijing’s agents in India, readers might recall reference in these columns to an article by senior journalist Mr. Sam Rajappa who had named top Indian officials for damaging Indian interests in Sri Lanka to advance the strategic interests of China. There was no official rebuttal. Does Mrs. Sonia Gandhi ever wonder why during the prestigious Beijing Olympics to which world leaders were invited, China invited neither India’s President nor Prime Minister but only Mrs. Sonia Gandhi?
Currently, an article in a journal analyzing the Godhra train fire alleged that it was the handiwork of Pakistan’s ISI and America. The reference to America was nonsensical but I will not comment on that. In the article there was the following passage: “The Americans have been conspicuous by their flippancy in handling characters like Hafiz Saeed, who in the Indian context is more dangerous than what Osama Bin Laden was.” In fact the American FBI nailed Hafiz Saeed for specific terrorist acts against India, and America sought UN sanctions against Hafiz Saeed. But China used its UN veto to protect Hafiz Saeed. I sought the antecedents of the writer of the article. To my horror I learnt that he had served in Indian military Intelligence and later in Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). How could he have made such a blatant factual error? Readers may draw their own conclusions.
Lest readers think that Beijing’s subversion of America is a figment of this writer’s imagination, let them ponder the following quotation from the signed article of the late Abe Rosenthal, Editor of The New York Times. In the NYT of October 29, 1996, Rosenthal wrote: “Wake up, America! Why doesn't America wake up…? Yes… yes, yes! Wake up America! Wake up to the truth that… the Republican leadership are partners with… the Democratic leadership in building up the Communist Chinese dictatorship and its armed forces.” Rosenthal was referring to US trade policy allowing a five to one trade imbalance by importing low-tech Chinese products owned by and funding China’s People’s Liberation Army. Greedy American big business diverted investment from the domestic market to China to exploit its slave labour and create unemployment inside America.
When the Indo-US nuclear deal was being considered there was a fierce public debate in which the CPI-M argued that India was being drawn into a strategic alliance with America. The BJP also opposed the nuclear deal. The government got scared and weakly argued that the deal was being signed to create energy in the country.
On March 3, 2008 I wrote:
“If the government proceeds with the N-deal the opposition will make it a major poll issue. So how might the government respond? By speaking the truth. By stating that the N-deal is not just about energy but also about forging a long term strategic partnership with the United States. By stating that such informal understanding, as prevails in the special relationship between the US and UK, is not uncommon in international relations. By stating that the role of China in our neighbourhood makes an Indo-US partnership imperative. And, finally, by pointing out that such a strategic partnership has been existing for decades between the US and China. It does not necessarily impinge on relations with third countries.”
The government did no such thing of course. Years after demitting office President Bush attended the Hindustan Times Conclave. A questioner asked why America gave so much importance to China compared to India. Bush coldly replied that it was for Indians to consider why this was so.
A new leadership in China provides a slight glimmer of hope that a realistic agreement with Beijing can be achieved. But for that the government would need to recognize India’s core interests and the leverage available to this nation to exert appropriate pressure. That cannot be done by a political establishment consisting of foreign agents and dupes. To settle with China it needs two hands to clap. Presently the Indian hand is paralyzed.