Puppets of Faith: Theory of Communal Strife (A critical appraisal of Islamic faith, Indian polity)
Author: BS Murthy

Chapter 34
Italian Interregnum

When fate wedded an Italian, Antonia Maino, to Rajiv Gandhi, and ensconced her as Sonia Gandhi in his mother’s 1, Safdarjung Road bungalow, Lutyens’ Delhi as badi bahu, it’s as if history woke up to the amusing fact that even though it granted the tiny Portugal a ‘Goan’ foothold in India under the British Raj, when it came to enslaving its ancient people, by oversight, it overlooked the mighty medieval Italy. So, it set things in motion, so it seems.

BY then, however, Indira had her dynastic grip on the democratic India firmly clasped by the Congress party; to achieve which, she castrated the party men into enervation as family eunuchs. So when she anointed Sanjay Gandhi, her second son, as her heir apparent, albeit bypassing Rajiv the elder, for lack of aptitude, it’s no wonder that congressmen to one man began prostrating before him. But fate, seemingly at history’s behest, dragged the reckless ruffian to death in a plane crash, thereby paving the way for his pilot brother to step into his princely shoes.  

It’s thus, when upon her assassination, as the credulous Rajiv, whom her sycophantic party men, was thrust upon the nation, a la Gandhi, as its ‘credulous’ head, he only tried to copy from her political text book, which by then became the Congress Bible. So, naivety following the Islamapologic sermons enshrined therein, he allowed himself to be caught between two emotive stools - that of Shah Bano’s sharia and Ayodhya’s Ram Lalla   – which heralded his political downfall. That’s not all, as if to follow the Italian script of ‘history’ he ventured into the vicious web of the Tamil Elam in the neighbouring Sri Lanka on the ‘to its own hurt ant grows wings’ line. It was thus his IPKF misadventure, meant to tame the ruthless Velupillai Prabhakaran, the overlord of the Tamil Tigers, which eventually exploded in his face at Sriperumbudur.   

Even though ‘history’ beckoned Sonia to take the reins of the Congress mantle, thereby the prime ministerial handle, her decency as just widowed made her pass on the scepter into the skilful hands of PV Narasimha Rao. So, as ‘history’ was made to wait, the intellectuality of that veteran polyglot began scripting his own history to be remembered as the ‘architect of economic reforms’. Having seen the imperative need for reforming the style and structure of the Indian economy that Nehru thought it fit to mould in the socialistic pattern, he started breaking its Licence-Permit model with his de-licence hammer. But, as the Sangh Parivar’s, Ram Janma Bhōmi Mandir Āndolan with ‘saugandh rām ki khāte hai, mandir wahi banāyenge’ (swear by Ram to build it there) chants and the Babri Masjid Action Committee’s ‘banāne nahi daenge’ (won’t let that happen) counter were diverting the national political focus and the public attention from his ‘reforms agenda’, he might have wished that Allah Ta’ala would somehow shift the dilapidated masjid to Pakistan for renovation. However, his wish to see the back of the vexatious issue to fulfill his destiny was fulfilled, not by divine means but by the temporal tools of the Kar Sevaks, who pulled down the contentious structure that 6th December 1992.   

Whatever, he not only removed many a Nehruvian hurdle in India’s policy track that put its economy on a galloping course, from which it never looked back, but also managed to run his minority government with finesse for a full five-year term. Equally significantly, having seen the democratic need to free the grand old party of India from its constraining dynastic clutches, once and for all, he, slowly but steadily, began working in that direction to Sonia’s chagrin that she eventually vented in an abominable manner that deservedly earned her an eternal infamy. What is more, he sought to usher in a new political culture by not protecting his party men accused of graft in those Jain Hawala Dairies that contained the names of ‘who’s who’ of Indian politics.

However, all that was of no avail as instead of giving him a second term to further fillip the economy and rid the Congress party of its baneful Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, and thereby India, its ignoramus masses, egged on by the antique socialists and caste crusaders, ousted the ‘architect of change’ from the gaddi, rather unceremoniously. What’s worse as his ‘cleansing’ move earned him enemies across the political spectrum, not excluding within his party, he was embroiled in corruption cases indicating that his end was near the end. Maybe underscoring the Hindu adage satyameva jayate (truth triumphs), he was exonerated of every change by the country’s judiciary enabling him to die clean though sad. However, as poetic justice would have it, that catapulted Deve Gowda, somebody, with the backing of the regional satraps like Chandra Babu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh, into the Dilli Kursi.

But then India had soon to contend with Sonia the new player in its political arena. While upon the untimely death of her bother-in-law, the dynastic compulsions of her mother-in-law put the party’s reins in her husband’s hands, the brutal killing of the old despot by her own bodyguards afforded her man the reign of the land; and that brought her closer to the seat of political power than ever before. As if it is her twisted destiny to get ever closer to power over the dead of her family, tragically, she lost her husband in the midst of an election that, anyway, was about to undo his Congress. Though the sentimental turnaround at the hustings put the Congress back into the reckoning, her decency as a widow kept her away from the kursi that was hers for taking, but only till decency demanded.

But, as time is the great healer of grief for the living and as the dead too wouldn’t be taking away with them the proclivities of their dears, the ‘Italian child of Indian destiny’ seemingly found the purpose of her life to usurp, in a palace coup, the reins of the Congress party from the ungrateful hands of Sitaram Kesari, who by then had back-stabbed Narasimha Rao his mentor. At the hustings thereafter, though she led her party to defeat, yet, abetted by the anti-BJP elements beguiled by the age-old Indian realpolitik of settling the native scores with alien hands, she staked her claim to become India’s Prime Minister after the short-lived AB Vajpayee’s mili juli sarkar (coalition government)! However, in the end, it was the principled opposition from a handful of otherwise self-serving Congressmen, led by Sharad Pawar, Purno Sangma and Tariq Anwar not to have a ‘foreign’ person as India’s political head that put paid to her eagerness to ascend the Dilli gaddi.

At long last, vexed with the Congress-created political mess that followed, the nation entrusted its political reins once again to AB Vajpayee’s BJP-led NDA, that served it as best as it could in its full term. However, it is worth noting AB’s reasoning for letting Sonia off the Bofors’ hook in his long second innings, ostensibly as barter for her good behaviour towards his mili juli sarkar – so long as a Roman Catholic heads the Congress, he prophesied, BJP would remain in the seat of power in Dilli. And, for his part, he did make ‘India Shine’ with brand new highways and made it self-assured with Pokhran-2 nuclear explosion, which eventually opened the vistas for India’s nuclear trade through the Indo-US Nuclear Deal. All the same, having taken the Hindus for granted, he sought to buttress his secular image, post-Godhra, with an adharmic advice to Narendra Modi on Raj Dharma, which was rightly retorted by the latter that he was following ‘just that’. 

So, when Vajpayee the ‘infrastructure builder’ sought his re-election in 2004, Indian voters were not impressed, as they were indifferent to Narasimha Rao the ‘economic reformer’ before. Moreover, as the Sangh Parivar too turned its back on him for his omissions and commissions on the Hindu nationalistic front, it turned out to be a near stalemate of an election (Sonia’s UPA - 145 ‘n Vajpayee’s NDA -138). It’s another matter though in the ensuing scramble for power even as the anti-BJP forces ganged up to let Sonia Gandhi usurp Dilli gaddi, the media hailed her for leading her party to historic victory! So, when it seemed Sonia was second time lucky, the public outcry at her impending coronation or the troubled conscience of APJ Abdul Kalam, the country’s President, and / or both, made her retreat, albeit, in the artificial halo of ‘sacrifice’, prompted by her ‘inner voice’, that is even as the morons in the media and the sycophants of her party vied with each other to picture her as a saint. Thus, going by her twice aborted attempts at taking over the reins of the nation, it would appear that the Hindu EQ at last scored over the media IQ as well as the Congress SQ, i.e. the Sycophancy Quotient.

But, hypothetically approached, would have the Hindu majority, recovering from the humiliation of a thousand years of alien rule like to suffer an Italian taking the capital seat of Hindustan? The Congressmen as hostages to fortune seem not to mind, unmindful of the perils of having a person of foreign origin as India’s Prime Minister! Wouldn’t every nation be a hostage to its own history that lends itself to colour its citizens’ thinking towards the other countries and their peoples? That being the case, if it comes to that, could an Israelite origin Prime Minister be objective in India’s ties with the Palestine? What about India’s relations with the Western world under the premiership of some naturalized Iranian or an Iraqi? Wouldn’t an Indian political head of Bangladeshi origin, nursing a grouse of his sister’s molestation by some Punjabi fauzis during the crisis in his parent country be tempted to settle scores with Pakistan with India’s military might? Why, could any such one be what he or she should be as India’s mukhiya? Without a native Indian at the helm of affairs, won’t its detractors exploit the handicaps of a foreign origin numero uno to jeopardize its national interests?

More ominously, what about war and peace that national leaders may be called upon to decide, especially in India, which had fought many a war in its short independent history? Isn’t that a Capital decision with emotive element and tactical content attached to it? Wasn’t India at a warlike situation with Pakistan in the wake of the terrorist attack on its parliament on 13th December 2001? Would have a foreign origin Prime Minister served India’s interests judiciously? Why, wasn’t the overwhelming public opinion to take the plunge; what if Sonia Gandhi on the gaddi went with the popular mood for fear of being perceived as unpatriotic for inaction? If attacking a hostile country seems to serve the long-term Indian national interests, can a foreign origin Premier, unsure about the outcome of the adventure, have the nerve to act? Didn’t Lal Bahadur Shastri, even as Pakistan crossed the Line of Control in Kashmir in 1965 war, order the Indian troops to breach the International border near Lahore, which none thought India ever would; and what fuss the Great Britain and other Western powers made of that Indian strategic military move?

Nevertheless, her ‘destiny of power’ overpowered the will of the nation as she ruled the nation through her proxy, Manmohan Singh, whom many derisively call ‘Servile Singh’. Well the caste factor of the Hindu franchise, the communal color of the Musalman vote and the political compulsions of the regional parties played their part in putting the wheels of the democratic omnibus of India into her backseat driving hands. Thus acquiesced by the colluding partners to share the spoils of power, she as if to validate William Congreve’s “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned / Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned” made Bharat Māta pay the price for that ‘indigestible’ political slight by her Hindu offspring.

Oh, how she had wrecked her vengeance on the motherland of the Hindus by taking its political morality to new lows by corrupting everyone and everything in her sight that is whatever her mother-in-law left uncorrupted in India’s systemic vitals, needless to say by looting its wealth in the process, like the invading Musalmans and the colonizing Englishmen did before. Not the one to rest at that, the depraved woman set out to stigmatize the pristine soul of sanātana dharma with a fake saffron terror label, aided by the Hindu hirelings in Servile Singh’s cabinet of her underlings, of course, with the connivance of the obliging bureaucrats and others in India’s corrupted administrative structure. That some Musalmans were arraigned as suspects in the then ongoing investigation of Samjhauta and Malegaon bomb blasts - Pakistan’s LeT cadres in case of the former and SIMI’s Indian operatives in case of the latter -  seemed as an opportunity to her conspiratorial mind to kill two birds with one shot – free the Musalmans to win the goodwill of the Congress vote-bank and implicate the Sangh Parivar outfits to invent Hindu saffron terror - as an equivocation to the raging Islamic terror that’s bugging the umma.

Why Rahul Gandhi, Sonia’s below-par brat, even told the American Ambassador in Dilli that he sees the Hindu saffron terror as far more dangerous than the Islamic terror! Well, Some Abrhamic soft corner here for the brat was indeed christened Raul Vinci but assumes the Hindu name of Rahul for political dividend in the Hindu India. But then, the thus far indifferent Hindus have at last woken up to the reality of the anti-Hindu credo of the Italian family that usurped their grand old party, and that’s the check ‘n mate. It is another matter though that in due course the fabricated cases against the ‘fixed’ Hindus fell apart in the court halls and with that the bogie of the saffron terror too was buried, seemingly for all time to come.  

However, in the next round, it was Manmohan Sing’s ‘clean image’ (the skeletons in his cabinet were yet to tumble out) that fetched the Congress alone 206 seats, enabling her to continue her rākshas regime for five more years, at the end of which though the Nehru-Gandhis had lost their invincible sheen and the Congress its pan-Indian winning ways. Besides, what with the coming of age of the educated voters from the forward castes, they began to abhor its dynastic odour, and so the Congress started losing its electoral grip on the Indian political stage.  

Nonetheless, nothing exemplifies Sonia’s overconfidence in her and her dynasty’s infallibility in the Indian political power play than her illegal transfer of the astounding assets of Nehru’s defunct National Herald newspaper to self and son ‘on record’ that eventually became her Achilles’ heel to entangle them both in the legal tangle,  though enlarged on bail. All the same, given the inexorably slow but unerringly just Indian legal mechanism, the writing on the wall for the ma-beta duo is seemingly clear. As and when the moment of reckoning arrives, it would be interesting to see whether the enervated congressmen would be able to look beyond her daughter Priyanka, whom they liken to her grandmother Indira, for someone to take on the reins on their downhill party.     

However, what with Advani’s BJP too losing some of its own nationalistic sheen in the Manmohan’s economic aura, the ‘Hindu Rebound’ all but seemed a ‘political thud’ that was before the coming of age of Narendra Modi, the ‘action man’ from Gujarat, the land of Sardar Patel the ‘iron man’ just in time to take up its cudgels in the 2014 parliamentary contest. Unlike Mahatma Gandhi, his fellow Gujarati, whose ‘inclusive ideology’ degenerated into the Indian political expedient of Muslim appeasement, Modi’s redefinition of ‘secular ideology’ as ‘India first’ has greatly appealed to the nationalist ethos of the Hindu middle-class. But then, the fate of the Indian politics is but the votes of its masses, and by positioning himself as one of them with his chāiwāla boyhood, he could successfully woo them.

What is more, with his formidable oratorical skills embellished with an inimitable rhetoric, he managed to foment public aversion against Sonia for her proxy regime’s ‘grafty’ ways, which by then became the talk of the town; in short, it appeared that in an electrifying campaign, he seemingly captured the Indian nation’s imagination. Nevertheless, he had to contend with the undying hostility of the umma towards him, courtesy the falsity of 2002 Gujarat riots legacy sans Godhra prefix, and an unedifying allergy of Lutyens’ media that saw in his potential rise its inevitable fall in the corridors of power. Even as his sab ka sāth, sab ka vikās, [(I’m) one with all, to further all,] fell on the deaf ears of the jaundiced umma, the inimical media pitched its Modi misgivings to feverish pitch in its idiot boxes. So, all his admirers, moreso his detractors, kept their fingers crossed as the ballots were being tallied on that fateful 16 May 2014, and by the end of the day, as he scored 282 on his own steam, one more than VVS Laxman’s celebrated cricket score against Australia thirteen years before, India  seemed  to have turned a new bend. As with Laxman, so with Modi, it was a case of making history.

Yet there was a flip side to that momentous election. Sonia, who was obsessed to see her son ensconced in 7, Race Course Road, in short 7 RCR, the official residence of India’s Prime Minister (rechristened by Modi as 7, Look Kalyan Marg) and thought that the moment was finally at hand, was at a loss at the magnitude of her party’s defeat - 44 seats, down from 206. In the televised press meet to ‘accept people’s verdict’, while she looked crestfallen and her daughter Piranha appeared gloomy, the real ‘loser’ Rahall seemed unconcerned. But still, even as he took the mike after his mother has done with it, she not only peremptorily stopped him from speaking but also pulled him by his hand signaling their exit. While the entire nation saw the mawkish 44 year-old meekly submitting to his haughty mother, none, as Sherlock Holmes would have put it, had ‘observed’ the abnormality of his personality.

It may be appreciated that when Sonia lost her man to Dhanu the suicide bomber, she was barely 44, her son was nearing 22, and her daughter crossed 19. What with her own flock back in Italy and not a friend to name in her in-law’s family, not to speak of detractors aplenty and leeches no less, in an alien country, where her political ambition made her stay put, she had to fend for herself and her children. So, as any widow would do in such a situation, she too succumbed to the urge of clinging to her son, at once providing support to him, and getting it in return from him, in the psychological sense that is. While that naturally made him a mama’s boy that his genes or fate and / or both rendered half-witted, only made it worse for him in his growing up.  But that’s not all as there’s more to his apparent ‘personality disorder’.

While his mother’s faith ensured that he was christened as Raul Vinci and privately reared as a Christian, his grandmother’s political compulsions labeled him as Rahul Gandhi. No denying the craven media was overindulgent to the family in not exposing this cynical reality to this day – in contrast with western media’s penchant to turn every Hindu fault line into an anti-Christian chasm - but it would be beyond any kid, least of all a dim-witted one like him, to change his religious cap to a political titfer and vice versa, at the drop of a hat, that too for years on, without disturbing his head. Surely, that did affect as is evident from his confused (Raul–Rahul) thought-process that runs on a course of contradictions - his words tend to be incoherent and his acts would be seemingly disjointed. Added to that is his confused demeanour, awkward behaviour and intelligible expression, and that leads to the supposition that Sonia willy-nilly enabled her unfortunate son to imbibe Dr. Dud ‘n Mr. Fraud split personality.

Added to his psychic dichotomy was the inimical influence of his mom’s moral turpitude, first brought to light by Bofors Kickbacks, and his exposure to the assorted skeletons in the family cupboard. It’s thus; his grow up afflicted his mental makeup and stunted his personality development; and so, in whatever he does or does not; his ‘personality disorder’ manifests itself in all its awkwardness, earning him derisive sobriquets such as Pappu ‘n Buddhu. If anything, his vain attempts to portray himself as a janeudhāri Hindu to varnish his and his party’s, anti-Hindu image for political marketing, made him seem a buffoon to boot. 

Thus, on the Hindu political ground, slowly but surely, the Congress party that began catering to the Islamic whims of the Indian umma in the guise of secularism had started losing its electoral hold. Meanwhile, the backward classes with a pie in every sphere of the national activity began foraying into the nationalistic political arena owned by BJP; though their elders habitually defaced the Congress symbol on their now defunct ballot papers, some irony in that.

While it was Annie Besant, the English woman, who helped the Congress form, Antonio Maino, the Dame de Italian, could cause its eventual liquidation. If not the maturity of the Indian electorate, at least the public allergy for the Congress’ insensitivity to the national ethos that she infused into her party apparatus could ensure that, and as and when that happens, it could be one of the many ironies of the chequered history of Hindustan. And for her part, even though Sonia has been unwittingly carrying on her man’s ‘work in progress’ of making the congress coffin for years, but yet, seemingly, it is their uninspiring son, who is probably destined to finish the job and put the final nail in it as well.

Let it be, but what about the man, who had unashamedly served Sonia’s devilish cause as her proxy premier for a decade?

In his belated address to the nation, as its Prime Minister, while dealing with the populist measures ushered in by him, ostensibly ordained by Sonia to pave the prime way for her son, he had no qualms in appropriating to himself the 1991 economic reforms that were indeed fathered by his mentor PV Narasimha Rao.

If anything, that was true to his character. 

But for Rao, who fostered him, by now he would have been a forgotten ex-governor of the Reserve Bank of India, one amongst many before him, not to speak of those who succeeded him. What a decent man’s morality would demand when his patron saint falls on bad times? Maybe, to leave the sinking boat is fine for a careerist politician but desertion wouldn’t be the in thing for any decent guy in his position, and that’s human morality is all about.

But what did the wily Sardarji do? With his mentor in dumps, he visualized greener pastures for himself in the shade of Sonia’s Bofors-tainted pallu. Well, it calls for no genius to foresee that the political dispensations of NDA ‘n UPA would have alternate reigns on the musical chair of the Dillii kursi and that when the latter’s turn comes; Sonia’s ‘foreign origin’ handicap would force her to concede the prized seat to someone else from her party ranks.

So what did the great survival artist do?

Not only did he distance himself from his lost out mentor but he unreservedly played the second fiddle to Sonia. Having privately ingratiated himself to her in every conceivable manner; he publicly declared that he’s not a ‘prime ministerial material’ in an idiot box interview, not once, but twice that was in case her ears fail to pick that up in the first instance. By the same token, Pranab Mukherjee paid the price for throwing his hat into the prime ministerial ring, presumably owned by the pseudo-Gandhis, not once but twice.

But then, what to make out of all that?

If he was secretly coveting the gaddi while publicly averring that he was not up to the mark, then he was cunningly self-serving. And if he genuinely believed that he was not a ‘prime ministerial material’ and still grabbed the job, then he was morally dishonest. Either way, he’s not a man of intellectual integrity or someone with moral conviction and /or both for which India has paid the price for having had him as its spine-less head for two decades. Maybe, he wouldn’t have coveted money for himself but all the same he served Sonia’s covetous causes and shamed the position of the Prime Minister, of the largest democracy on earth. That what made Modi famously characterize him as the one blessed with the art of bathing with a raincoat on him!

That’s not all; besides being servile to Sonia, the way he clung to his powerful seat, rendered powerless by her, disregarded by his own bureaucrats, disobeyed by his cabinet members, and humiliated by Rahul, he has ensured a premier place for himself in the Indian Hall of Infamy. But as he never seemed to have minded about his self-inflicted fate; he only should have known to what avail.   

And to cap it all, when his mentor’s mortal remains were being abused by the vengeful Sonia, who never forgave Rao for daring to cut her dynasty to size, he turned his shameless head the other way. Such was the personal character, political ethos, and the morality of mind of this cunning man, who had conned India as the benign face of Sonia’s rākshas regime.

Hence, Sanjaya Baru should have known better not to name his book on his times with him as The Accidental Prime Minister, which title befits only PV Narasimha Rao, for when the call came from the just-widowed Sonia, he had already packed his bag and baggage to move into his political vanaprastha, and not his ex-deputy, who had been cunningly paving his servile path to 7 RCR.

 

 

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