When the PM and Sonia ate crow, publicly

IN Opinion | 19/10/2007
With that avian breakfast ended the useful life of the UPA government. Surprisingly, it was the Times of India, that said it all.
DARIUS NAKHOONWALA’S take on the UPA copout.

You don¿t say! 

Darius Nakhoonwala



The point was quite simple, actually. The government, or at any rate, the prime minister, wanted the nuclear deal with the US. The Communists said no. The prime minister said ok, in that case pull down the government. The Communists said they would, and kept saying it.


Then Sonia Gandhi accused them of being "enemies of progress". That stiffened their resolve. Then the non-Communist elements of the UPA government got the shivers. So they put the squeeze on Soniaji who backed off. The PM had to eat crow publicly.   With that avian breakfast ended the useful life of the UPA government.


Surprisingly, it was the Times of India, not known to be very explicit in its criticism of governments that said it all. Indeed, it was even the first off the block -- in contrast to the Hindu and the Telegraph which have not thought the climbdown worthy of editorial notice. Also, the Asian Age was the last to write, after five days.


It said "It is time now for the UPA government to come clean, and let the country know the exact status. Instead of expressing his deep disappointment, the Prime Minister would do well to recognise that the executive has to recognise the will of the nation as expressed through Parliament. And in doing so, he should not be disappointed, but elated that finally he has done the right thing." Right thing, Mr Editor? You nuts or something?


"It ended with a whimper," said the ToI, "when within a week of Sonia¿s uncharacteristically strong statements, both Manmohan and Sonia ran up the white flag." But what a whimper, my countrymen. It would not be wrong to call it the mother of all whimpers. So the ToI said "It¿s certainly a blow to India¿s global aspirations and a diminution of its international stature when New Delhi makes commitments to foreign governments that it can¿t deliver on because of internal opposition, even when it strikes deals that are transparently in its own interest."

The Indian Express, which had long campaigned for the deal, was incensed by the surrender. It has already written three edits. "Let¿s not talk about the nuclear deal… Let¿s instead talk politics. And ask the Congress a question… there¿s life even without completing the nuclear deal But what kind of a life? How does the Congress think the country will interpret its conduct over the next 18 months?"


It second edit on the subject said pretty much the same things but was written after the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, claimed credit for torpedoing the deal. "Frankly," he said, "the deal is not important, the government is." Harrumph, said the Express.  Edit No 3 compared Dr Singh to P V Narsimha Rao who it said "may have postponed Pokhran II but he didn¿t lose nerve on economic reforms despite the huge row it created domestically… Dr Singh needed the Congress to not blink. But the Congress did."


The Pioneer, poor thing, was completely confused as to what to say. The BJP, which it supports, had been opposing the deal. Its edit was wholly predictable and said nothing that the paper has not already said. But it did bowl a googly at the end. " Yet, it would be incorrect to suggest that the last word has been heard on the Congress-Left standoff or the future of the nuclear deal. Politics can throw up more surprises than the Prime Minister expected when he talked tough to the Left through a newspaper interview. For all we know, the situation could radically change in the next 10 days, which is a very long time in politics." Now whatever does that mean?


The Hindustan Times, a supporter of the Congress, went off at a tangent and talked about the joys of nuclear fuel and the IAEA chief¿s visit. What a copout.





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