Posts Tagged ‘Manmohan Singh’


I am horrified by the death of Dalit PhD scholar Rohith Vemula who committed suicide on January 17, 2016, by hanging himself from the fan in the room of his friend at the Hyderabad University. Whatever maybe the reasons for his death, enough has been said and done about the case for me to repeat here. He left a suicide note that has saddened and shocked the very conscience of the nation. And here is where I am even more horrified – by the behaviour of our politicians. I don’t mean all politicians, at least not the ones with a conscience, anyway.

What moved those politicians so much that they almost tripped over each other to be the first to land in Hyderabad? Surely, it couldn’t have been another Dalit student who committed suicide. Nor was it the votes that they could either see slipping away or coming their way. There have been almost two dozen suicides before this one. So, Vemula, for all practical purposes, was just another statistic. So what was it? Two reasons: The first, their visceral hatred for Narendra Modi and second, the fear that if he succeeds in these five years, they might as well pack their bags, lick their wounds, and limp away into the sunset. So, naturally they have to stop him. And I have no issues with that. After all, that is one part of the job of a politician. So all the best to them.

And what better way to do that than to crawl on all fours and prostrate themselves before the students at Hyderabad University, Rohith’s friends and his family. “Hey, remember me, I was there that day in Hyderabad University?” could well be the signature tune of these people in the days to come. I read on Twitter someone describing a politician rushing off to Hyderabad as a vulture. That is too polite. I would call them something else.

Now that Rahul Gandhi is back from Hyderabad University I hope he reads The Hindu of January 19, 2016, which had this to say indirectly about his government, which was in power at the Centre and in the State of Delhi: The Thorat Committee, constituted some years ago to investigate differential treatment of SC/ST students in just one institution, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, had come out with a damning indictment of the way Dalit students were treated. Forced into ghettos in the hostel, discriminated against by teachers, denied access to sporting and cultural activities, SC/ST students in India’s premier educational institutions walk into an environment that’s virulently hostile to them. Not surprisingly, according to one estimate, in the last four years, 18 Dalit students chose to end their lives rather than continue to battle on in these dens of caste prejudice and social exclusion.

Eighteen Dalit students committed suicide in the last four years, most of it during the rule of his party, while he was busy mouthing inanities, or holidaying abroad, or disappearing somewhere without notice. It’s also been happening at AIIMs right under his government’s nose and he did nothing. Another Dalit student, Senthil, committed suicide in Salem in 2008, and Rahul G. Prasad, a final year B. Tech student at IIT-Madras committed suicide in 2015, but Rahul Gandhi and those of his ilk weren’t interested then. Wonder why. And yet, this vacuous upstart, who has raced up the political ladder by hanging onto the saree of his mummy, has the gall to talk about helping the Dalits, Muslims other deprived communities? So the UPA of Manmohan Singh quietly brushed it under the carpet and now their vice president is pretending to be the champion of the downtrodden?

But, it’s not just the politicians this blog is about. I am also thinking of the 13 Dalit teachers who were struck with a pang of conscience or guilt, or whatever, and decided to resign in support five whole days after Vemula’s death. What were they doing for those five days, weighing their options? How considerate of them. More likely, they realised that they were going to be the next target of the students and the HRD ministry for keeping silent through the current unsavoury episode. If they had reacted in time, who knows, things might have been different. I can lay a bet that six months down the line the faculty will be back at their jobs. How? Your guess is as good as mine.

But there is a larger issue. While I completely understand and agree that all those lesser fortunate must be educated, looked after till they can be self-reliant, and be made a part of this country’s mainstream, the way the Congress governments have gone about it is not the way. All that has happened is that in many cases it has become a question of give and take from both sides. And the fallout of this is every marginalised and not marginalised community has now realised that the best way to get jobs and money from the government is to dangle the carrot of votes and watch the politician running to them with freebies. It is unfortunate, but this the reason there is an anger rising against all those who call themselves ‘marginalised’ either through caste, class or economics. I am waiting to see where this ends.

The other group that has really done itself no service is the media of which I have been a part for 30 years. Whatever I leant about the profession, I did on the job and from my seniors. My seniors always taught me that a journalist should be anti-establishment and at the same time be objective. I am afraid, today the media is neither. Their reporting in recent times has been nothing short of disgraceful. I am glad I am out of it.

I hope the parents of the 18 students who have committed suicide earlier get together and file a civil action suit for a few hundred crores (much like the one filed against the Ansals in the Uphaar tragedy) against the various colleges, their faculty, and the respective state and central governments, who have stood by as mute spectators during these tragedies. It’s time someone was made to pay.


Nearly two decades ago, as a member of the Pune working journalists union, I remember an occasion during one of our usual protests over something or the other, we had gathered outside the Pune Union of Working Journalists (PUWJ) office, which was then opposite the Congress Bhavan, near Bal Gandharva Rangmandir.

I don’t remember who the President of the PUWJ  was then. I remember, the late Taher Shaikh, who was my senior at Maharashtra Herald, was there with us as we gathered across the road from Congress Bhavan, It was he who spotted Maratha  strongman Sharad Pawar, coming out of the Congress office. We thought that if we all rushed towards him, he might listen to what the members had to say. We were still standing on the divider, waiting to go across in a group, when Pawar signalled with his forefinger that we were to stay put. Then he saw Taher and beckoned to him. After all, they had been classmates in Wadia College. But the rest of the journalists, including some senior journalists from the vernacular press who strutted around like they were the cat’s whiskers stopped in their tracks. Some were even rudely told to go back.

I was reminded of the incident while reading about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s complete silence when dealing with journalists. A lot of people have been asking why this prime minister is keeping a studied silence on issues which concerned the nation. And it’s not just he, but everybody else in his team also, who has suddenly shut up. The man who couldn’t stop talking before the election, has nothing more to say to the media. And to top it off, the royal snub was not being invited on anymore junkets with the PM’s entourage. No daaru, khaana and whatever else. To me it looks like the start of an extended dry day for the mainstream media (MSM)! I guess that’s why when that Ved Prakash Vaidek managed to speak with Hafiz Saeed, they wanted to get the former arrested for sedition! Honestly, guys, where does it say in any goddamn journalism manual or book that one cannot interview even the biggest terrorist? Desperation has its limits and the media is really letting it hang out!

Anyway, coming back to Modi and the media. Used to as they have always been, to speak to ministers when they need to, or having access to the PMO through a media advisor, this media has been clean bowled by the prime minister. Why should he speak when he’s got a lot of people ready to deal with the busybodies in the media who have questions to which the nation needs answers? I think it has dawned on a lot of mediapersons that they’ve been taken for one hell of a ride. They thought he was, oh, so accessible, so open, so unlike Manmohan Singh! It has now dawned on them that this guy is a different kettle of fish. I just think it’s because he doesn’t need to say anything anymore, because he and his party got what they wanted and got to where they wanted to!

Whether Modi’s silence is intentional or unintentional is something we aren’t going to know. Remember, this is the man, who sailed through every indictment made against him, without ever clearing the air, after the initial attempts. As every journalist, activist and politician threw everything at him, he stayed mum and moved on to bigger things. I’ve said this before, but his silence in the midst of all the loud noises from the other side, have only helped him get an even bigger image. He didn’t have to say a word. He remember him telling a news channel that he stopped talking because he felt people were anyway saying and writing whatever they wanted to. I guess he is employing the same tactics now. Let’s see if it works.

Now, even the most senior journalists don’t know how to approach the new MPs and ministers, because they are not quite sure how these MPs will react. It must be particularly galling for news anchors who believe they are on first name terms with politicians! Take Ravi Shankar Prasad, Sushma Swaraj or Smriti Irani, for example, who were so visible before the election? Have you seen them on a news channel after the election, taking part in any debate?

I get vicarious pleasure watching the way Modi is treating the mainstream media, especially those in the national capital who believe that when they order, any person, high or low, must come scurrying. It’s fun to watch them fretting and fuming about the silence from the prime minister and his ministers, and having to listen to only those who are supposed to address the media.

Imagine having to depend on twitter for updates about the prime minister – in just 140 characters!!

 


In the political history of India, this has easily been the mother of all elections! I think what we witnessed today was an earthquake in the political arena. One party winning a clear majority hasn’t happened since 1985. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this since 1977 when the Janata Party threw out Indira’s Congress Party after the Emergency was called off. After that, this has been the most exciting election I’ve seen. And remember, unlike Indira in 1971 or the Janata Party, Modi had no war or a tactical win to use in his favour.

For all of Modi’s claim of development, the 2002 Gujarat riots would invariably pop up. In a bizarre sort of way, the UPA’s plan to bring the riots to the forefront and make it their main poll plank, only helped Modi consolidate his support. As the campaign reached its crescendo, it had become Narendra Modi versus the Rest of India’s political fraternity. And in that context, to win more than 300 seats is truly astonishing.

The UPA and every other party raised the 2002 bogey. And every time they did that, Modi talked development, jobs and a better life for the poor. He did not talk about the Ram Mandir, Hindutva or the riots. Sure, he regularly poked fun at the Ma-beta-beti-damaad’.  The opposition had just one theme – ‘Modi is a murderer, fascist, Hitler etc etc’.  I am afraid that began to grate after a while. Secondly, that would have worked if the other side was as clean as a whistle. They were not. They had enough skeletons in their cupboard that they were desperate to keep stashed away. Also, if you keep hammering away on just one point even the electorate gets tired. Finally, even they wondered, like I did, whether this was an election about how bad Modi was, or how good the UPA is. And I’ve said here, time and again, 2002 was 12 years ago. People were ready to move on. The UPA didn’t want them to.

The fact is the UPA proved to be a disaster in its last four years. They had won a second term on the basis of a clean, honest and decisive prime minister, who somehow, could not keep up the tempo after that and gave up on his government. Then the mother-son duo and their sycophants started throwing their weight around and the prime minister retreated further and further into his shell, until one really didn’t know who was running the government. Then there is the issue of taking responsibility.

Also, what political parties must have realised, especially those like the Congress and others which divide voters on caste and religious lines, is that in the end they will lose. The fact that the BSP, JD-U, RJD, Left, NCP, SP were all but wiped out, should be a lesson to them that wooing one community at the cost of another isn’t going to work anymore. It was almost as if for these parties the vast majority did not matter. I guess that the vast majority showed these parties who have survived on their blinkered vision for this long, exactly how much they mattered. As for AAP, Arvind Kejriwal should have realised by now that drama won’t him get him votes. but his party still managed 4 seats, which is not a bad start for a new party. To be honest BJP never denied that they were a Hindu party, but they smartly never tomtommed the fact. There were those irritants like Giriraj and others but somehow nothing stuck.

The second and more important fact was the people (except those who think the Gandhis can do no wrong) realised that the First Family was running a parallel government. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was insulted and rebuked at various times. It had to backfire, and it did. Then there were the scams involving ministers, and ‘private citizens’ that kept popping up. The manner in which the government put a protective ring around the Gandhi family only showed them in very poor light. Secondly, everything was left to Sonia, Rahul and later Priyanka Gandhi, none of whom could take on the BJP’s well oiled machine.

If you think I have a problem with the family, I hope you watched the impromptu press conference on Friday, and the completely arrogant and condescending behaviour of the mother and son. There was no word of congratulations for Modi, but instead only for the party. Wake up and smell the coffee Mrs G. Your party got the worst thrashing in its 100 plus year history.  Bringing that nose down a little won’t hurt.  Even the impromptu press conference was a disaster, with mummy indicating to sonny to move his ass! If Sonia and Rahul took the responsibility for the defeat, shouldn’t they have resigned? Let’s face it, Rahul is a disaster as a politician, and the only one who can pull the Congress out of the mess it is in, is Priyanka – but only if she says goodbye to her husband! There are good people like Jyotiraditya Scindia and Shashi Tharoor in the party, but the sycophants of the party who owe their careers and their very existence to the Gandhi family, will never allow the good people to come up.

However, now that the results are out and the National Democratic Alliance is all set to form the government, can we put all the rancour behind us? Sixty-four per cent of Indians voted this time, of which more than half voted for Modi. So, for the sake of all those who voted and want a government to run the country, can we let them? Those who didn’t vote (and I am not talking about the lot who were legally denied their right by the Election Commission) really don’t have the moral authority or the right to criticise. Of course, that won’t stop them from vitiating the atmosphere, because that is all they are good at.

This is the time for Narendra Modi to walk the talk. To show the rest of the country that the Gujarat development model is what he claims it is and can work everywhere. And if it can’t, then find another model that will give jobs to people, and help the desperate farmers and those living below the poverty line. They need security of a job and income and not government largesse. Let’s see what he can do.

Oh, and by the way, all my friends who stopped talking to me because they thought I am either a BJP supporter, or worse, a Hindu fundamentalist in the making, I am not. I didn’t even vote for Modi or his party!


Remember the film Network’ where Peter Finch as Robert Boyle tells viewers to go to the window and yell “I’m mad as hell, and I am not going to take it anymore.” Well, In think the people of the country are getting there. And I am sure we don’t need a ‘Mad Prophet’ to make us feel that way. Although, I daresay, there are a few of our news anchors who come close!

Prices of everything are sky-high, crime is rampant, women and children are getting molested, raped, citizens or abducted. Activists are getting murdered in broad daylight. Incidents of road rage are pretty common nowadays. And while all these things are happening around them, the politicians, secure in their fortified bungalows and offices are offering lip sympathy.

I am angry not because the price of petrol has passed Rs 80 and I, like everyone else have to pay through my nose for it, along with the already steep prices of LPG and vegetables. I am angry because while I pay, the politician continues to live a tax-free existence. And if it was a hardworking, honest politician I wouldn’t mind, but most of these guys deserve (and I am sure 99 per cent of the tax-payers feel that way) to get nailed – since I can’t use anything more vituperative.

If there is an economic crisis in the country, how come only the tax-payer has to bear the brunt? Why aren’t elected representatives – MPs and MLAs – told they have to pay taxes, pay for their fuel, telephone usage and house rent, until the situation improves? After all it is they who are responsible for the sorry mess we are in today, so why should they walk away and leave us to carry the burden? The Centre’s logic of shoving it down the tax-payer’s throat even though they are the biggest culprits is only going to increase the anger among the public.

Manmohan Singh, for all his so-called personal integrity has turned out to be a dud as a Prime Minister. Well he is the prime minister, technically, even though Soniaji pulls the strings. For all his integrity, all he does is stand up in Parliament and defend the corrupt ministers and officials who work under him. So how is he any better than them? Has he even once asked his ministers or bureaucrats to limit their expenses on travel? Instead, he has warned the public that things will get worse! What a source of comfort he has been, in these troubled times!

You don’t need to be Einstein, for example, to see that the maximum wastage of fuel is at the government level. The common man, by and large, is careful, The government is not. So if the MPs, MLAs and bureaucrats are asked to pay for the fuel they consume, at least till we tide over the present crisis, there won’t be a crisis. But watch the cavalcade of cars these nincompoops travel with, and you’ll realise that they don’t give a damn if the rest of the country starves as long as they are mobile.

Take Pune itself. We have a terrible public transport system, but does the government care? The BRTS they planned is one of the worst-ever planned projects the city has had. It was supposed to ease the traffic congestion. Instead it has only brought on more chaos. Everyone took a slice of the pie and left the mess on the floor. Now the citizens have to drive through the mess.  It’s not the politician’s problem anymore. Now take the Metro. In the past six years since they announced it all that has moved is the cost of the project – upwards. E Sreedharan, the man who executed other Metro projects around the country, came to Pune recently and ripped the Metro project to shreds. Has it had any effect on the politicians? Ho hum.

As a nation we are in a shambles. In all these years, I don’t think I’ve seen so many issues hitting us so hard in one single year and there’s worse to come, I am told. The worse thing is the government seems to resemble a blindfolded man trying to figure his way out of a maze. All they need to do is take off the blindfold.

So I am angry, and I am sure, so are you. Some months ago I read that some women thrashed an amorous politician in public view. Today I read on FB that villagers in Gurgaon forced open the toll booth there because they were fed up of the bad service road they were being forced to use. They decided to take law into their hands. It’s coming, slowly and surely. The anger is building. God forbid, if one day this anger explodes into something more drastic. I guess, those who rule over us, would deserve that.


I am depressed, very depressed. There is so much cynicism all round. It’s difficult to take anything at face value. As journalists we have been mentally tuned to disbelieve anything we are told. Often, that penchant for taking with a pinch of salt anything we are told, has transgressed from our professional lives into our personal.

You can’t really blame people for feeling the way they do. The ordinary citizen is getting squeezed for his last rupee while the corrupt politician is busy raking it in. The ordinary citizen is paying his taxes and then he finds the government blowing it away in daft populist schemes that are only going to increase the burden on the tax-payer.

Of all the hair-brained schemes (MGNREGA, Aadhaar?) this UPA government has come up with, the Food Security Bill has to be the stupidest. I don’t say this because I have any antipathy against the poor and the downtrodden, but because I am convinced that not even five per cent of those living below the poverty line will benefit from this idiotic scheme.

Just like the funds meant for NREGA are being siphoned away by the contractors, the food meant for the poor will be forcibly taken away by the landlords, hoarders and black marketers and sold at double the price in the open market. The worms in white Gandhi caps and their cohorts will steal even the rice that the government promises to give to the poor for three bucks. That is their mentality and that will never change. Scum they are, and scum they remain.

It doesn’t take an Einstein to understand that the Food Security Bill is just a squalid vote-grabbing exercise. No government scheme for the poor since Independence has helped improve their living standards, and neither will this. The PDS is a good example.

There is another troubling fact. Where are we going to find the funds to feed so many? If one heard Sonia Gandhi, it would seem to the whole country that it is not her problem what happens to the tax-payer. The implication in her speech was clear. She needs the money to buy the votes and if she has to ram more taxes down the throat of the tax-paying citizen, so be it. And all this when her son-shady in-law is busy making crores through even shadier deals! So can you really expect the middle class taxing paying voter to trust this government, anymore? More importantly, can you expect them not to be cynical?

And it is not just silly schemes that are leading to this all round depression. In 2008, Mumbai was attacked by a bunch of Pakistanis. Yup, never mind the cock and bull story about “irregulars”. They were Pakistanis and they waded in and set the ‘maximum city’ on fire. The Centre and the State promised a lot to make its citizens feel more secure. Then there were more bomb blasts. We were again told that the State government would (metaphorically speaking) stand on its head to ensure the safety of citizens. Then some idiots with backpacks blew up the German Bakery, killing seventeen people who were probably enjoying their Chocolate Latte or Mocha or whatever. More promises. Then the bombs went off on Jangli Maharaj Road. More promises. If that wasn’t enough, the Pakistani Army kept up its relentless barrage of gunfire on the border, pushing in terrorists into India. And Manmohan Singh and his Cabinet keep telling us that all is well. In this situation, expecting the honest tax-paying citizen not be depressed and cynical is asking a lot of him.

Even an earnest 21-year-old asking for help is looked upon with disdain. This young girl, who teaches in a school for children of the economically weaker sections, sent me an email a week ago to ask me whether, firstly, I could find a journalist to address a bunch of 11-14 year-old from her school on what the future holds for them, and secondly whether she could bring them over to our office to show them what the inside of a newspaper office looks like.

My first response: What does a 14 year-old know about journalism? I was just being me – cynical and condescending.

Another email from her turned the whole issue on its head. It won me over: …8th is an extremely crucial year as that is currently when free education stops. If the kids and their parents aren’t invested enough in the idea of education to pay for a private school, they may drop out. So, because of the limited opportunities the kids already face, we start conversations about achievement, college and opportunities with even a 3rd grade class. Most of my students haven’t ever seen an office of any sort, and apart from what I have told them, have no knowledge as to how a newspaper works. So, I think that this would be pretty beneficial for them.”

Her earnestness won me over. I personally offered to talk to the children at her school and also got an immediate approval from the Editor to show them around the office. And then I thought… if the poor children from this school can actually get out of the cycle of deprivation and poverty and make a better life for themselves, it would be a fitting reply to the idiotic schemes launched by this government for the poor – ones that would only end up making beggars of them, instead of giving them a better life.

So cheer up, things can only get worse from here on…!


It’s been over a month since I penned my last post. Been so busy with personal and professional work that I never found the time to write something here. And then nothing really caught my interest, until now…

I remember seeing an episode of Yes Prime Minister titled ‘Hacker’s Grand Design’ where prime minister Jim Hacker invites his rather eccentric defence advisor who suggests scrapping the nuclear missile plan and enlist in conventional forces.

Hacker can already visualise himself as the messiah who gives jobs to everyone and end the unemployment problem and refers to it as ‘Hacker’s Grand Design’. His Cabinet Secretary Humphrey Appleby is appalled because there’s money to be made under the table in buying missiles from the US and Hacker is unknowingly spiking the plan, while the Chief of Defence Staff is delighted because it means the Army gets larger – until he learns that Hacker intends to launch conscription or permanent military service for unemployed youth.

“You mean we’re going to have a million strong football hooligans on the streets of London?” is his comment. The very thought is painful and so he and Appleby get together to hatch a plan that sees the prime minister and his grand design self destruct!

Running along similar lines is Dr Manmohan Singh’s grand design of the unique identification data card (UID), popularly known as the Aadhaar card. More and more I wonder whether the prime minister plan of one identity card for all, which in effect is a pretty good idea (if he can pull it off) will ever be completed and then implemented.

I am pretty certain that this project isn’t going to be completed till 2014 by which time the country will go to the polls. And unless the UPA returns to power the UID will surely be dumped and so will Nandan Nilekani, who has been entrusted with the job of carrying this humongous task through And the way this government is stumbling from one disaster to another, their survival post- 2014 seems bleak. And since vested interests in the government are hell-bent on derailing the plan it I’m even more sceptical about its success.

We, as in the family, all have UID cards and were quite thrilled to get it sometime in March this year. After all, a card that Nilekani claimed would be the last word of my identity had to be something special.

The first look was disappointing, because I couldn’t figure out how anyone could carry around a card that was around six inches long in a wallet! Then I noticed a perforated line that advised me to ‘cut here’. That put my mind at ease. Once cut and laminated, it would be a snug fit in my wallet. Needless to say, I was delighted with my new acquisition.

My son got one too with a rider. In May he turned 15, it seems he would have to get a new one because it stated that after attaining the age of 15, the old card would have to be replaced. Couldn’t the department have made a rule that all minors whose birthdays fall within six months of making the card should wait till they’re 15 and then make a card? How much money and effort would the government and us have saved? I guess no one in babudom thought of that. Or probably they did and let it be. After all, every department needs to justify its budget!

Leaving aside all the quibbling I decided to find out how useful it was. Since we moved house in April I decided to get a new phone connection from one of the private service providers. Since BSNL didn’t have a cable a private service provider seemed to be the only option. Off I went to one, where I produced my Aadhaar card as ID proof. It was refused. The reason given was that they had not yet got an ‘official notification’ on whether they could accept it.

Then last week I went to an authorised agency that deals in documentation for issuance of PAN cards. Over there, I once again produced the Aadhaar card because I wanted to update my residence home address and phone details and was once again, snubbed. Here too I was told that they hadn’t “received any notification”.

According to the RBI Gazette the UID card can be used for opening bank accounts, LPG connections etc, and there is no ‘notification’ required to announce its usability, so why are some agencies making an issue of it?

I haven’t tried the other places yet, but more than the phone operator it’s the PAN Card guys that made me laugh. And I thought the Aadhaar card was going to replace the PAN! Or is that why they’re fighting it tooth and nail? It seems here too, PC has the upper hand on Nilekani!!


Nice guys don’t make good prime ministers – Rajiv Gandhi and Manmohan Singh are good examples of this. Would the Bofors deal have dragged Rajiv down if he had been careful about what his ministers and bureaucrats were up to? And Manmohan Singh?

To me the Prime Minister, more and more, is beginning to resemble a cross between Roman Emperor Nero and the fictional character Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau. On the one hand his government is in trouble and he fiddles, while on the other just like the comic French detective, he stumbles from one controversy to another, completely oblivious to the mess he leaves behind.

Honesty and decency are not enough to run a country of one billion people when one is dealing, day in and day out, with a bunch of crooks masquerading as honest politicians. Efficiency, competence and ruthlessness are also mandatory requirements and the PM seems to be way off the mark with these attributes.

He and his government are blundering along from one disaster to another, with the latest one being the Nira Radia phone tapping scandal involving a couple of media personalities and the names of industry stalwarts being dragged in. But we don’t hear anything from the man himself, while his office tells the media that he is clean and doing the best he can!

We hear that the PM is just a rubber stamp, and that the real power lies elsewhere – which may be true to some extent, but I don’t think that’s the case when it comes to the running of ministries. Had that been so, Singh would have quit a long time back. He’s too decent a bloke to allow himself to be led around by a chain and leash by the Gandhi family. Some politicians in the chain-and-leash category spring to mind – Giani Zail Singh, DK. Borooah, V.C. Shukla, R.K. Dhawan, S.S. Ray, H.K.L. Bhagat, M.L. Fotedar and Sitaram Kesri – but Manmohan Singh?

It just seems Singh is totally ineffectual and prefers to do nothing as his ministers and his allies, use their proximity to either Sonia or their own party chiefs and run riot. Raja is a good example. He used his proximity to DMK supremo Karunanidhi to loot the ex-chequer, secure in the knowledge that he could always hide behind the Tamil patriarch’s dhoti, in case the government decided to ask him uncomfortable questions.

Drawing parallels with the Raja case, if you see a man about to steal something or in an extreme case jump in front of a running train, what would you do? Politely tell him not to, or physically stop him from doing so? Was the written nudge to Raja enough? Shouldn’t he have stopped the former telecom minister, before things got out of hand? If Singh’s office says Raja was told to revamp the bidding process, it also means Singh knew all the facts. And if that be the case, the guy is an accomplice and guilty as hell along with his former minister.

More importantly, did the PM need to wait so long before asking Raja to quit? Strangely, this has been the case in every controversy this government has been involved in. Take the case of Tharoor and his tweets, the Commonwealth Games fiasco or even the Adarsh scam. In all these cases, the PM allowed things to drift till they reached a stage where he had to step in douse the flames. And is the Prime Minister a fire fighter or worse, a hostage negotiator, that he stalls for time, till the commandos reach the place and neutralise the criminal?

Now, even the Supreme Court is asking the PM the same question that we are. Let’s wait for the answer when Attorney General GE Vahanvati represents the P in the Supreme Court and, hopefully, clears the air.

In the meantime, step aside Chief Inspector Jack Clouseau, you’ve got competition!