Stand up, Sir, or step down, please!

Dear Dr Manmohanji,

I shall begin without a preamble because the events of the present are self-evident. Of course, these days you often claim to be unaware of even obvious things, that either you were misled or no one told you. But even schoolboys have stopped putting up such excuses. A PM can certainly do better than that.

‘The king shall do no wrong’ is a familiar maxim of English law. In India too, everything is done in the name of the President, but he cannot be hauled up. In fact, his ‘will’ is a myth. Reason why that post has earned the unseemly sobriquet of ‘Rubber Stamp’ and we must add that the incumbents of that lofty constitutional position, barring a few exceptions, but including the current one, have also acted in ways that justified the innuendo.

But Mr. PM, the country can ill-afford two rubber stamps at the top. And what is most painful is that both of you are the very best of men in every respect, from academic and professional pedigrees to personal integrity: A combo that the nation has been longing for. What a pity, therefore, to see the political system effortlessly pervert even this twin boon into a bane! If this is the fate of two of our preeminent personalities, what about lesser mortals and minds?

But let’s leave the President out for the reasons stated above. Et tu, Manmohanji, a rubber stamp? Well, that’s what the whole country thinks! And while the Presidential rubber stamps have traditionally obeyed the diktats of the Prime Minister, the Prime Ministerial rubber stamp that you have turned out to be, is wielded by a super Prime Minister, answering to the name Sonia Gandhi, who holds no constitutional authority, but is the de facto authority behind all authorities in the country now! A naturalised citizen, whose citizenship itself is conditional and capable of being revoked anytime by a district magistrate, dictating and directing the fate of the nation’s natural citizens, whose citizenship outlives even their deaths unless they surrender it themselves. A pretender who claims to have ‘renounced’ position even while retaining unlimited power or pelf!

How can you, Manmohanji, a man of mettle and morals allow yourself to be paraded as mindless, meek and even mean? Don’t you realise that your famed honesty and track record can no longer be held up as alibis for immoral acts of commission and omission? After all, it is your finger prints that will be all over the pages of history, be it Bihar, Volcker or Quattrocchi, while the real perpetrators will not even figure in fineprint! How can you allow your fair name to be so sullied? But the failures and fall of an honest man like you is only one part of the tragedy. What about the collateral damage to the constitutional position of the Prime Minister: the erosion of its credibility and the total dilution of its importance as the highest elected post of the Republic of India? Does that post not have a sanctity? A PM’s powers and prerogatives are explicitly enunciated by the Constitution, Court verdicts and conventions. In effect, given the titular position of the President, the PM is the all-powerful boss of the country. But is that true of you, sir? The legitimate PM is defied with impunity; the illegitimate power centre is deified endlessly. And the PMO is nothing but an outhouse of 10 Janpath. What a shame!

No one expects you to bite like Nehru or Indira, or bare your fangs like your mentor, PVN, but have you even forgotten to hiss, a la, Gujral or Gowda? To your credit, we must say that puppet PMs are actually not new to our country. But the impotence of such persons, to invoke a queer logic, have been wrought by the democratic system itself, often in the form of a lack of majority in the House. Dependence on unstable support has been their nemesis, be it Charan Singh, Chandrasekar, Gowda, Gujral or Vajpayee. Yes, theoretically, you too suffer from some similar infirmities, such as the support from the Leftists. But you are also setting a record, a despicable one at that by placing yourself and your hallowed position voluntarily at the mercy of an extra-constitutional authority. Your puppet predecessors, at least, would have cherished a certain degree of freedom given the chance, but here you are, who seem to be scared of such freedom and would happily allow it to be usurped and feel relieved at that too. In short, you want to just close your eyes and imagine things will be taken care of.

Such cultivated ignorance is not bliss, PMji, but criminal negligence. For is that not failing the people who you are lawfully bound to serve? Or is it your enlightened argument that since your position was something conferred by Sonia, you must serve her first, foremost and forever? That may be a personal truth, but can that be paraded as a public policy? Who gave you the right to mortgage the constitution-conferred powers to someone to whom you are obliged to or owe a debt? Is sycophancy to Sonia a higher calling than the oath of office? Are you not guilty of not just abdication of responsibility but also of indulging in a quid pro quo of sorts, defined as ‘corruption’ in political parlance? What else could be made of your behaviour in L’affaire Quattrocchi? Have you not tried to be more loyal to the Queen than the Queen herself, not to speak of the other Q?

Are there not other ways to show your loyalty and gratitude? You don’t even have to strain your fertile grey matter used to such profound issues like GDPs and Fiscal deficits: The imaginative Congmen could give you one thousand tips on servility. But why do it as the PM of the country, sir, and bring the nation too with you to its knees? And if that has to happen, then why you, of all persons? Instead, why not let any of those spineless natural crawlers and creepers take over as PM, instead of you, a naturalised one? We say this because we still want to give you the benefit of doubt … that you are a honourable man!

The Constitution says that the council of Ministers, including the Prime Minister who is deemed the first among equals, will hold office at the pleasure of the President. Manmohanji, let us remind you that the Constitution is referring to the country’s president, not the Congress president!

End this torture, sir.

Yours truly,

A concerned citizen

e-mail the writer at [email protected]

Jawahar T R