| Sonia Gandhi: In the line of fire
Mumbai, June 23: There are two parallel power centres within the government and a third (the Left parties) outside it. This is how the BJP’s political resolution described the Manmohan Singh government at the Centre.
Opening a broadside against the new government, the party’s political resolution described Singh as India’s first “selected” Prime Minister totally bereft of power rather than an elected one.
To support its apprehensions about the multiple centres of power in the United Progressive Alliance government, the BJP quoted Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee as publicly stating: “The new government will stand up when we ask it to stand up and sit down when we ask it to sit down.”
The BJP is clearly busy painting Sonia Gandhi as larger than life and she is its new designated target. Gone are the days of harping on her “foreign origin” or her lack of experience. Now she is being ascribed with the ability to exercise political power, which might surprise even her.
This was evident in its unfolding of its assessment of the present political situation. The BJP’s political resolution spent considerable time and space emphasising the “contradictions” within the present UPA government.
Thus, Singh, the BJP suggested, was only Prime Minister in name as he reported to a “super Prime Minister” — Sonia Gandhi; he had no power while Sonia had a surfeit of it but, as an “extra-constitutional authority”, was undeserving of it.
Accusing the Congress of “systematically diluting the dignity and honour” of the office of Prime Minister, the BJP cited the “MoU” signed between an emissary of the Congress and the DMK about allocation of portfolios.
The BJP, smarting under its unexpected election defeat, also tried to suggest that the UPA government was led only in name by the Congress because of its numerical strength. “It is ideologically and programmatically led from the outside by the CPM which also holds the veto power and the rope of guillotine,” it said.
The statement of the Bengal chief minister about controlling the basic physical movements of the new government came in handy for the BJP that claimed that this was indeed the case. He was “not letting out any state secret” when he said so, the party claimed.
The Left also came in for criticism from the BJP for starvation deaths in Bengal where it is in power and the “insensitivity” of the government when one of its ministers stated publicly that tribals suffering from starvation could survive by eating “snakes, rats and toads”.
This, the party’s political resolution argued, was a prime example of how “after being in power for 27 years, the communists have become... apathetic to the plight of the poor”.
The political resolution was harsh on UPA ministers making public statements which showed a “lack of cohesion”. Thus, the external affairs minister was accused of making “offhand statements” without consulting the Cabinet Committee on Security and embarrassing the country, the civil aviation minister of making a policy statement about the level of divestments, which the Left parties did not like, the human resource development minister of announcing FDI in education which again the Left criticised and so on.
“This is a government in which the minister for ocean development makes (a) statement on Ayodhya and the minister of railways makes a statement on Godhra,” the political resolution pointed out, ridiculing the functioning of the new government.
The UPA government also came in for severe criticism for including tainted ministers in the Union council of ministers, omission of cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir in the common minimum programme and ignoring the rise of “anti-India jihadi forces” in Bangladesh.
The resolution condemned the Congress’ decision to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act and demanded that the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act in Assam be revoked.
The party also promised that “the BJP will act as the watchdog of national security” while rededicating itself to ideology and idealism and working with the scheduled castes, tribes and backward classes.