Did Rajiv know or…who cares anymore?

Posted: June 18, 2010 in blogging, Politics
Tags: , ,

Trust the politicians to indulge in their silly games of one-upmanship and buck-passing over the Bhopal gas tragedy. When they should have been going after Union Carbide and Dow Chemicals, they’re going after each other. While the farce continues, over whether Rajiv knew or didn’t know about Anderson’s flight out of India, the real issues – proving succour to the sufferers and extradition on Anderson to India – has taken the backseat.

Rajiv Gandhi is up there with Him (or down there, as some others would have us believe), so even if he did, does it really matter, anymore? The two people – one being Rajiv himself and the other P.V. Narasimha Rao – who knew the answer to this question, are both dead. So you can interview all the bureaucrats who served under them and unless someone actually says he informed the prime minister, it’s always going to be hearsay. Of course, when did that stop the politicians from flying off on a tangent?

If Rajiv really didn’t know, it casts him in even poor light – that of a prime minister who didn’t know what his chief ministers and bureaucrats were doing. Even worse is the fact that the CMs took decisions without informing him or even taking his permission. It doesn’t do much for Rajiv’s credibility as a leader of the largest democracy in the world.

I’ve always been an admirer of Rajiv – not because he was Indira Gandhi’s son, but because I think it took guts to take up the job of running the country, post the riots. And the fact that he was an honest man-made it all the more difficult in an environment where a lot of people didn’t care too much for the basic tenets of law and justice.

Compared to his mother, who was in every sense a politician – cunning, conniving and crooked, Rajiv basically seemed an honest guy and a gentleman. The problem was a lot of the people around him were leftovers from his late mother’s regime, and all just like her. They – the politicians and bureaucrats – who branded him a crook, didn’t do so because they knew he was one, but probably because they knew that once branded a crook, he would spend his time fighting off the allegations. It would ensure that he stayed out of their way and allow them to pursue their one-act agenda of making money. That is exactly what happened, till he was cleared of all charges on the floor of the Lok Sabha.

In that scenario to run a country, must have been a difficult task. As the Bofors deal proved after doing the rounds of the various inquiry commissions and being flogged to death by the media these 25 years or so, was that Rajiv had not taken a penny in the deal. So while he was basically an honest man, or at least so it emerges from various accounts heard and read, he was pretty naive and inexperienced in his early years as Prime Minister. And by the time he figured out a few things he was gone.

While I agree that the manner, in which the events that occurred after the Bhopal gas disaster were handled, was very amateurish, nailing Rajiv is hardly the solution. To first arrest Warren Anderson and then escort him out of the country was one of the dumbest things to do – especially, when he was assured safe passage into and out of India by the government. But, it still wasn’t as dumb as the NDA Government’s decision to allow the terrorists in IC 814 to refuel and then let them fly off to Kandahar!


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