The real coward

Sans Serif reports that the editor of Mint – Raju Narisetti – has resigned. He has, as is all too common in the upper echelons of the corporate world, termed the decision as one about “moving on”. But the media blog thinks that the resignation is more about the Congress Party and its dirty politics than anything else. And it might well be right-

However, the suddenness of the announcement has set journalistic tongues wagging, and there are quite a few within and outside the organisation who believe the exit may have had to do something with the publication of an opinion page article 19 days ago, by a serving IAS officer writing under the pseudonym Athreya.
Eight days later, the tone and tenor of the article clearly proved juicy enough for the BJP’s member of Parliament from Bangalore South, Ananth Kumar, to raise it in a Lok Sabha discussion on the economic slowdown to needle the government.

In response, the new Union home minister P. Chidambaram, went for the jugular:

“He (Kumar) cited an article allegedly written by an IAS officer. I have read the article. I do not know whether the name of that author given in that article is a true name or a pseudo name. I do not know whether he is an IAS officer.

“All I know is either he is a disloyal officer or a coward or both. If he had the courage, he should write the letter, sign in his own name and send it to the Prime Minister. But I hope they (BJP) do not encourage such officers; they did not encourage them when they were in power. So what is the point of citing a pseudonymous or anonymous author’s article taking shelter under it and running away when the reply is to be delivered?”

From here on, though, matters get into seriously speculative territory. The word in HT House is that the article, the clarification and the blog post were brought to the notice of HT’s bosses by members of the ruling coalition. (HT’s editorial director Shobhana Bhartiya is a Congress member of the upper house of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha).

One version has it that Narisetti was asked to reveal the identity of the IAS officer.

Another version has it that he was told to apologise, which he declined, preferring to put in his papers.

There is a lot more to it. So read the Sans Serif post.

Now what did this Athreya write that made the Congress Party so – angry? This

Mr Prime Minister, you were selected, not elected by the people, for just one reason, that you posed no threat to anyone in the Congress party. You were not selected for your excellent PhD or for your integrity; not even for your competence as a civil servant. You were considered the least of all evils.
You have personally demonstrated integrity, but what use is that alone, when almost every key minister in your cabinet is treating every file as an opportunity for cash flows? Are you telling us you don’t know that your telecom, environment and shipping ministries are the home of organized mafias looting the exchequer? What use is it telling us, “Look, I am personally honest, but I’m presiding over a band of dacoits, murderers and thugs. I am only the prime minister and can’t do anything about it”?
Can you not pour money into technology and arm our security agencies (the Chinese spent $6 billion on security during the Olympics alone), invest in setting up a highly sophisticated counter-intelligence agency, get the Mossad to train our commandos, step up the diplomatic offensive at every forum to isolate Pakistan and, most importantly, come down heavily on corruption at all levels, starting with your cabinet? Can you not ensure simple reforms in the criminal justice system (which scores of committees such as Malimath have outlined) to ensure certainty of punishment for any offence from pickpocketery to terror? Can you not lead legislation to keep criminals out of politics and try to stem the flow of illegal money into campaign funding?

If not, then what use is it being a prime minister if, even after reaching the very top, you can’t do a damn in an hour of national crisis?

Some people can’t stand the truth – they have this nasty habit of shooting the messenger. And this is widely prevalent in the Congress Party. Even without this allegation, the dictatorial nature of the party is no secret. From Nehru to Indira Gandhi to Rajiv Gandhi – the rape of the already half-dead constitution was a continuous process. It is the party that sent India to the dark ages – while the rest of the world looked towards Western democracies, India was made to take lessons from mass murderers sitting in Soviet Russia and Communist China. Under the guise of non-alignment, India practiced anti-Americanism; it supported the Palestine cause and terrorists like Arafat while refusing to maintain diplomatic relations with Israel – forgetting that Kashmir is a similar situation with India in Israel’s place. It is the party that brought in the Emergency and went on a rampage – “family planning” programs and all – while the impotent Supreme Court of India looked on. It is the party that nationalized everything from banks to insurance companies to oil companies to airlines, actively encouraged the “license raj” and destroyed the lives of millions of entrepreneurs and youngsters. It is the party that condoned the murder of 4000 Sikhs over a three day period in Delhi after the assassination of Indira Gandhi and whose prime minister nonchalantly said – “when a mighty tree falls, the ground will shake.” It is the party a senior member of which gets away with making comments like “there is too much democracy in [India]”. In fact, take any problem, and you will find that the Congress Party is at the root of it all; in the 60 years since independence, the Congress Party has done more harm to India than all the terrorists combined, and that’s saying something.

Cho Ramaswamy says about the centralization of leadership and dynasty rule in the Congress Party, the period of Indira Gandhi-

As far as Mrs Gandhi was concerned, she did a lot of damage, definitely to the polity of the country. In fact, it was she who weakened the Congress. She could get votes with sheer charisma. But she was not prepared to tolerate leaders of stature in any state.

That is why she saw to it that Kamaraj in Tamil Nadu, Nijalingappa in Karnataka, Sanjeeva Reddy in Andhra Pradesh, S K Patil in Maharashtra, every one of them was relegated, and the Congress lost many stalwarts because of that. And every state unit became totally subservient to the Centre.

The Congress leader of every state was seen as a peon of the Centre, whereas the leader of the local regional party was seen as a master. He shone brilliantly as against the Congress leader. That is why regional parties started flourishing in this country. That was a disservice done by Mrs Gandhi.

She allowed free rein to the corrupt. But she was able to provide a determined leadership to the country. In Punjab, it is my belief that she encouraged Bhindranwale in the initial stages to embarrass the Janata Party. That is another disservice to the nation. As far as the Sri Lankan problem is concerned, even today we have remnants of the problem created by Mrs Gandhi. She started funding and training the Tigers.

And it continues to this day.

No wonder its ministers are arrogant as hell, and while its government does not bother about the rights of citizens or the rule of law, it expects bureaucrats and everyone else to follow its diktats, and no wonder Chidambaram skipped Athreya’s very valid questions and indulged instead in ad hominem attacks. If Athreya had written what he did under his real name, he would have been sacked – dissent is not tolerated; boot and ass licking is welcome.

He’s not the coward, the Congress Party is.

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