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Aug-23-2012 13:49printcomments

A Ship About to Sink

Neither Singh nor Pranab Mukherjee, nor anyone else is capable any more of saving this Government. It’s neck deep in its own sticky sleaze.

Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh

(LONDON) - I like Manmohan Singh. He has immaculate credentials. It’s these credentials that have seen the UPA through its most stormy years. If Singh wasn’t Prime Minister, the Government would have collapsed a long time back. No, not because of its inherent coalition contradictions but because it’s simply not possible for so many crooks with conflicting agendas to loot the country together, almost as if in perfect unison. The Indian Political Philharmonic Orchestra must be the world’s most amazing cacophony of rogues, rascals and robbers.

Luckily for the UPA, there was always Singh to fall back on. Most middle class Indians refuse to be cynical. We know exactly what’s happening around us, we criticise it constantly, but when it comes to the crunch we all rally around the nation and the flag. We are not bat-brained paranoids. Neither are we wide-eyed innocents ready to buy into every ridiculous explanation thrown our way to explain the loot that’s taking place in broad daylight. But the latest season of scams has flummoxed all. This is not just Alibaba and his chaalis chors. Everyone among the chaalis chors is another Alibaba with his own forty thieves. That’s the way the pyramid of crime operates today. But because Singh, soft spoken and self effacing, is the face of this Government, India has kept faith.

But now, enough is enough. Neither Singh nor Pranab Mukherjee, nor anyone else is capable any more of saving this Government. It’s neck deep in its own sticky sleaze. What’s worse, you haven’t seen anything yet. All these scams are but the tip of the iceberg. Talk to anyone and you will get an instant dhobi list of scams in queue to break. No, I am not saying this. Congress leaders are, in private.

Look at Singh, wan and waylost. Or Mukherjee going apopleptic in faux anger because he has to defend what he knows is indefensible. They look less convincing than Rakhi Sawant playing Joan of Arc. The problem is: We have voted into power the stupidest bunch of thieves.

They are such losers that they can’t steal a hamburger without leaving ketchup stains all over. Yet they are constantly trying to pull off the biggest scams in history.

From Rs 64 crore in Bofors, they have upped the ante to Rs 170,0000 crore in 2G and no, I am not including hundreds of aircraft Air India bought while sinking into bankruptcy and preposterous sums spent on arms deals that have made India the world’s second largest arms buyer when we can’t provide food and healthcare to 60% Indians. Our leaders are making deals on the sly with greedy builders, land sharks, illegal mining companies, corporate fixers, shady arms dealers and, O yes, US diplomats who want to manipulate our political choices. And, what’s more amazing, they do it like bungling idiots. Even Inspector Clouseau can outwit them.

But that doesn’t mean they are not malevolent. These are people who are destroying India from within. They are not just robbing you, me, and the exchequer. They are destroying institutions, subverting laws, vandalising our heritage and history, and trying to build a dazzling, amoral edifice of crime and corruption unprecedented in the nation’s history. It’s a scary scenario that could turn the land of the Mahatma into one gigantic Gotham City with a flyover to hell.

But my question is more basic: Can we trust these idiots to run this great nation?

If you travel and meet people across India , you will realise that for every scam that breaks—and currently there’s one breaking every week—there are ten more waiting in line. The media has never had it so good! And it’s the same gang whose names keep coming up. Kalmadi, Satish Sharma, Sant Chatwal, Ashok Chavan. The NCP lot.

The DMK. And everyone, in private, is protesting his own innocence, pointing fingers at someone else. It’s a sure sign of a collapsing regime. It’s what happened when Rajiv with a staggering majority in parliament lost his mandate to govern. Rats alone don’t leap off a sinking ship. So do everyone else.

So even though Singh, like Pontius Pilate, may wash his hands off every scam that hits the headlines, the fact is: The longer this Government stays, the more compromised the Congress will be, and the less capable of coming back to power. You can’t allow the sovereignty of a nation to be compromised just to win a confidence vote. You can’t bribe MPs to get your way in parliament. You can’t allow a shady hotelier, with CBI cases against him, to play roving diplomat and, worse, give him a Padma Bhushan for it. You can’t appoint a tainted bureaucrat as the nation’s CVC. You can’t file a FIR against a corrupt CM and then allow him to melt away. You can’t let the prime witness to the nation’s biggest scam, who offered to turn approver, be murdered in broad daylight and pretend it’s a suicide. If this is the best this Government can do, it’s time to step down.

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Pritish Nandy

Pritish Nandy writes, paints, makes movies and occasionally, when he wins an election, sits in Parliament. He has been writing for The Times of India for over 26 years. In "Extraordinary Issue", he talks to all those who find his views controversial, challenging, charming or even utterly despicable. Just one small caveat. Nandy is always on the move, travelling for a film, writing a book, working on an exhibition of his paintings. Or simply eating lotus. So there could be occasional gaps, the odd delay. But Nandy is Nandy. He never ignores a barb, never lets a compliment go by without swatting it hard.

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