Have we any national pride?

Evidently, Sonia Maino Gandhi is extremely paranoid. Her all out efforts to convert the hallowed Indian National Congress into Sonia Congress, by bending rules, throwing norms to winds, dumping reputations and above all paying scant regard to the feelings of her fellow senior Congressmen, betray a tendency to make hay while the sun shines. The unseemly haste with which she is gobbling up one post after another and the alarming ‘unanimity’ with which significant and far-reaching amendments to the party constitution are passed are indicative of a frantic race against time. Sonia, obviously, does not trust anyone in the party and it is also apparent that she had set herself an agenda that could be better sewed if operations are carried out with maximum speed and minimum dissent.

Indications of what her mission is can be discerned if one were to consider her clarification on what transpired when she met the President as a statement of intent. Sonia now claims that she had only told the President that the Congress did not have the numbers to form a Government, but never said that it will not make an attempt, for which it needed some more time. Congress circles have expressed surprise that the President should call Vajpayee to form the Government, even when their leader has sought time. Even if Sonia’s averments are assumed to be correct, no one can blame the President for interpreting the failure to muster the numbers as an acceptance on the part of the Congress of its inability to form the Government. All the same, the Congressmen’s attempt to cast a slur on the President’s decision by relying more on the dubious word of their party’s new President only reveals that they will never say die and their hunger for power will not abate even when the chips are palpably down. And by creating an atmosphere of confusion about her meeting with the President on the pretext that she had been misunderstood, Sonia indeed has had her baptism in politics truly and typically in style. After all what is politics, without quotes, misquotes and denials?

With her sights clearly fixed on Race Course Road and all her actions directed at removing the numerous road blocks and hurdles, within and outside the party, the siege indeed has begun. The British never knew there was such an easy and ‘legitimate’ route for the conquest of India. Had they only been aware of the naturalisation technique, India today would have continued to be a, shall we say, proxy colony of the British. As fate would have it, it is probably the turn of Italy. God knows.

Are we paranoid? Why should we react so negatively to the possibility of a ‘foreign-born-Indian’, as the Congressmen would prefer it, ruling our country? After all we are a hospitable nation. We are also a very tolerant nation. And yeah, we are a secular nation and the meaning of secular could be amended, a la CWC rules, to accommodate naturalised citizens also. And foreign rule and foreigners’ rule are not new to us, rather it goes well with our tradition and history. So what if there is another spell and what is the objection when ours is a democracy where anyone can do anything?

To be frank, the fact that the country is faced with such a dilemma and is likely to witness more of such debates, is itself a disgrace. Whatever the charitable disposition of a nation and its populace, it is debatable if any other country, which has as much the cultural and spiritual orientation as of India, would allow a foreigner to head its Government, nor can anyone even contemplate such a tendency in any of the so-called advanced countries. Also it would be an open admission that the country is unable to throw up a single leader from its soil who could lead it. More than the prospect of being under somebody who is not truly one of us, with due regard to her bahu status, it is the ignominy that we have to surrender leadership owing to our collective impotence which is even more appalling. To put it another way, it is not that we love Sonia less, it is just that we respect our nationality and origins more.

With due credits to whatever her intentions, do we and that includes the Congress, really need her? In the first place, do we know her at all? What are her qualifications and capabilities that have emboldened her to nurture an ambition for the highest office? Are the countrymen familiar with her views, if at all she has any, on the plethora of issues of concern? Are the Congressmen at least, who have inflicted her on the nation, aware of her credentials? Such questions run the risk of being dubbed as disrespect to the nation’s premier family. But then we are inclined to draw a difference between Nehru family and Sonia family. Once again, no offence meant.

It would be worthwhile to dissect the souls of the Congressmen too. Is the Sonia-mania that is now a fashion with them, a matter of their conviction or a question of survival? Is it an exhibition of their large-heartedness and magnanimity or a parade of their inability to exist, leave alone prosper, without the assistance of a mascot from the Nehru family? Is it truly a display of their cosmopolitan outlook or a mere cloak to hide their own skeletons from public view? We all know better.

Whatever the consequences for the present the Congressmen’s spinelessness and Sonia’s ambitions appear to have struck the perfect rhythm with one another.

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Jawahar T R