Sonia Gandhi: Sphinx who would be Pharaoh & When did Rahul Gandhi acquire identity of Raul Vinci? – Sandhya Jain
Given the thinly veiled nature of Sonia’s conflict with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over his refusal to step down and make way for her chosen heir after the victory of May 2009, it is safe to assume that the Signora now expects party loyalists to cluster around her charmless prince-ling and ensure him a say in government as well. Political compulsions have forced discretion regarding the chairmanship of the UPA parliamentary party, and her personal vanguard, the National Advisory Committee (whose members will doubtless be feeling orphaned already).
The composition of the committee that is now to preside over the Congress and its interaction with government reveals everything about Sonia Gandhi’s intent, mindset and style of functioning. It is an open affront to the Prime Minister and his senior cabinet colleagues (particularly to all purpose trouble shooter Pranab Mukherjee), to all senior Congress leaders with vote catching abilities, and to the party and nation. As such, it is virtually designed to undo the objective for which it has been formed, viz., install the Amethi MP as de facto leader of the party, and at an early date in the future, as head of the Government as well.
Even by the standards of the factional politics she played when she decided to keep the then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao on tenterhooks throughout his tenure – which culminated in the party denying him a ticket to contest the next Parliamentary election, and then consigning him to oblivion – Sonia Gandhi’s designated committee is scandalously narrow. Worse, it is partisan against the Hindu community, a fact that would have been noted in the country as a whole.
Besides the non-Hindu Rahul Gandhi, who is obviously positioned as primus inter pares of the group, it comprises Defence Minister A.K. Anthony (supposedly for his clean image, but really because he is a Christian co-religionist and is therefore trusted more than other party veterans); her political secretary Ahmed Patel (a Muslim with no base in his home state of Gujarat, or indeed in any part of the country); and party organizing secretary Janardhan Dwivedi (a Patel acolyte and party spokesman with no base outside 24 Akbar Road).
Neither Rahul Gandhi, nor any among this group, is known for political sagacity, vision, and the ability to inspire the masses by winning votes, and thereby elections. Rahul Gandhi’s leadership qualities (sic) have already been tested in the waters of Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and leave one speechless. His espousal of the farmers’ cause in Bhatta-Parsaul villages of UP was swiftly undone by revelations of State favours in land acquisition in Haryana for a Trust run by Sonia, Rahul, and Priyanka!
Yet Sonia Gandhi chose to shove aside all party veterans and trust such non-charismatic ‘nurses’ to propel Rahul Gandhi on a winning trajectory into the Prime Minister’s Office. Actually, the family miscalculated by refusing Dr Singh’s offer of a cabinet berth for Rahul in the recent cabinet reshuffle (though they would have been aware of Sonia’s ill-health by then), and now he is on a sticky wicket. Neither Dr Singh who sits in the Prime Minister’s chair, nor the seasoned Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who controls the Government’s purse strings, is going to forgive the calculated insult to their persons and their chairs.
Meanwhile, a number of questions arise about the secretive manner in which Sonia Gandhi went abroad for surgery on 2 August 2011. The excuse of excessive visitors disturbing patients in an Indian hospital is sheer arrogance; visitors do not get beyond the reception if one does not want them.
In January 2009 the Prime Minister underwent a well-publicized heart surgery at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences; Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar announced he was going to undergo jaw surgery for cancer some years ago. With India having some of the best oncologists in both private and public hospitals, the true reasons for Ms Gandhi opting to go abroad, and the nature of her illness, should be made known as soon as possible. Reports that she was operated upon at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center need to be confirmed or denied without further ado.
To begin with, there was simply too much secrecy. At first, on 31 July a small news item in a newspaper said Sonia was suffering from viral flu and would be back in Parliament on Thursday (4 August). That same day, Janardhan Dwivedi told reporters she had gone abroad the previous day and been operated upon successfully. When the timeline did not add up, this was amended and the operation placed in the future; then finally it was stated that the surgery was successful and that Sonia had left on 2 Aug.
More disturbing are the reports in the latest issue of India Today that the Gandhis habitually refuse to inform the Lok Sabha Secretariat about their foreign trips, though this is the established convention, even for personal visits. Thus, in June this year, Sonia Gandhi went to London and Italy. The same month, Rahul Gandhi celebrated his 41st birthday in London, and both reportedly went to Switzerland – where they reputedly did not visit the holiday district but the commercial centre of Zug, thereby setting tongues wagging amidst a nationwide furore over black money in Swiss banks.
When Dwivedi announced the formation of the uninspiring committee, observers were quick to notice the absence of Home Minister P Chidambaram and Rahul mentor-cum-general secretary Digvijay Singh. As Sonia does not seem to have had detailed discussions with the Prime Minister and senior cabinet colleagues about the status of her health and the issues pending before the government, political observers speculate that the UPA will have to postpone appointment of Governors in states with vacancies, and a decision on the Telangana issue. It remains to be seen, therefore, how long her ill-health can be allowed to paralyze the government.
Ra(h)ul (da) Vinci
Now that the Gandhi family has concertedly declared Rahul Gandhi as their official candidate for the leadership of the party and government, both of which they tend to regard as watan jagir, it would be appropriate for the nation to know everything it has a right to know about the Amethi MP cum wannabe PM.
To begin with – and the Prime Minister would do well to make the matter public without further delay – how and when did Rahul Gandhi acquire the identity of Raul Vinci?
As friendly journalists and newspapers were asked to acknowledge and dismiss the news that Rahul Gandhi has travelled abroad on a passport issued in the name of Raul Vinci, some questions deserve an answer: –
– Which Government issued the Raul Vinci passport? India or Italy?
– If it was Italy, does it also follow that Rahul Gandhi enjoys Italian citizenship by virtue of an old Roman law that bestows citizenship on the offspring of all children born to its native citizens? Note that Sonia Gandhi was an Italian citizen at the time her two children were born, and that the family has persistently refused to answer pertinent questions regarding their citizenship.
– The Government of India must now settle this issue in public – including the legality of the trio holding Indian passports, and contesting Indian elections.
– What are the names of the alleged parents of Raul Vinci in the fake passport and what is the place of residence given on that document? It should be made public on a Government website.
– Where is that passport now and how often and where has Rahul Gandhi travelled on it? All details should be made public on a Government website.
The specious plea that Rahul Gandhi assumed a false identity for security reasons will not wash: Benazir Bhutto’s son Bilawal studies abroad under his own name, as do the scions of other eminent families.
Then, Rahul Gandhi supposedly holds an M. Phil degree in Development Studies from Cambridge University, UK, though there is no information about when and where he completed graduate and post-graduate studies. To this day not a single person has surfaced anywhere in the world to say that Raul Vinci (his disguise) was his/her classmate at x y or z college.
Family acolyte and then Cambridge Master Amartya Sen defended the degree but refused to furnish details. Now, following revelations about the purchased Ph.D. degree of Saif Gaddafi, it seems that London routinely “takes care of” the academic credentials of political scions in the third world.
Raul Vinci is also supposed to have worked as financial consultant in London. No colleague has stepped forward to say where.
Yet this man wants to impose himself upon the nation as Prime Minister. He needs to be downsized.
And Sonia Gandhi, appropriately dubbed ‘the Sphinx’ for her dogged silence on all issues of public concern, would have realized that she was not born to be Pharaoh of India. This country is governed by the invisible ethos of Vikramaditya – the throne will move away when the utterly unworthy approach it.
The author is Editor, www.vijayvaani.com http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1909
Offence is not always the best defence. Delhi’s ruling establishment is learning it the hard way. For the past few weeks, the UPA, the Congress and its megaphones have gone cacophonic with questions over the colour of the movements led by Anna Hazare and Ramdev against black money and corruption.
The reaction of the Government and the party to civil society’s champions defies not only logic but also consistency. They decided to defame and deride the same leaders whom they treated like manna from heaven until last week. Both Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had written personal letters to both the reformers, praising them for their relentless drive against the same cause to which, both claimed, the Congress is equally committed. Over a dozen ministers were deputed to plead and pray together with Baba and Anna. No doubt, Manmohan Singh and Sonia later put together a very effective team comprising spin doctors, legal eagles, filibusters and sagacious leaders to deal and tame the rising revolt against the establishment. The team led by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was expected to rein in both the crusaders by dialogue, debate and database.
They were also under instructions that if they failed in their endeavour, they should not spare any page in the rulebook to derail and demoralise the civil society groups through the use and misuse of the ever-ready investigative agencies. As the public outcry against the system acquires monumental proportions, the Government has devised a dangerous mechanism of dealing with dissent in a democracy. The message is clear: Join Us or Perish.
Once Anna and Baba refused to fall in line, the ruling establishment dubbed them as communal, corrupt, thugs and agents of unknown enemies of the state. But the Government fell into yet another trap for which they weren’t ready. Those who oppose both Anna and Baba chose to ask some questions like:
● Who were the donors who provided huge funds to both these campaigners?
● How are they spending their money?
● Why don’t civil society leaders declare their assets to the public?
● Are civil society leaders divided on many issues?
● How can a few selected people be allowed to dictate the nation’s agenda?
● Why do they want a live telecast of the proceedings of the panel on the Lokpal Bill?
● Why have they taken the support of organisations like the RSS and other allegedly communal organisations?
Interestingly, none of these issues were raised by any of the senior ministers who spent over 50 hours with Anna and Ramdev at the cost of government functioning, pleading for the agitation to be called off. As the Government and opinion-makers it sponsors mounted a tirade against Anna and Ramdev, they received an equally powerful rebuttal to each of the doubts raised about their motives. Team Anna turned the tables on the Government by putting out the assets of each key team member on their website.
Anna also ensured his website was brought to date by uploading the names of the movement’s donors, money spent on each rally, travel and so on and so forth. An earlier attempt to tar the image of Shanti Bhushan and his son by circulating a fake CD fell flat when two contradictory reports were handed over about the veracity of the discs. The Delhi Police have conveniently chosen to forget all about the case. Some prominent Government leaders issued veiled threats, promising reprisals against those who were part of the civil society movements. In Baba’s case, the threats were implemented; the Government selectively leaked reports on his business empire. It also sent out clear signals to all its departments to dig deep into the yoga guru’s past and present to try sabotage his future.
If the Government’s moves were aimed at silencing and demoralising both Baba and Anna, it failed miserably. Instead, it only brought them together.
Allegations of a division among civil society ranks were exposed by a massive protest fast at Rajghat by Anna and his team. They argue that when Parliament proceedings are telecast live, what is the problem with doing the same with the Lokpal Bill meetings? Civil society leaders were particularly upset with the way the Government treated Baba. Questions posed by the establishment were answered to with more inconvenient questions to the Congress and the Government. The most devastating question was on the legitimacy of the National Advisory Council led by Sonia. If, as the Government points out, unelected leaders like Anna and Baba are forcing it to set the tone for legislative business, then why is the NAC, with unknown members, being allowed to summon government files and officials for a brief on every law that the Government proposes to enact? The prime minister and all political parties are under pressure now to force ministers and leaders to declare assets on regular basis. Now, the public will ask the leaders to declare how much money was spent on each rally and also the names of donors who contributed towards these political shows.
Even the Election Commission that has failed to take any serious action against political parties for not filling their annual returns correctly will have to pull its socks. No political party has ever given out the names of those who give them money to run their political establishments and fight the elections.
According to credible estimates, over Rs 80,000 crore is spent by parties every five years on contesting polls and meeting their running costs. Most leaders now travel only by chartered planes.
It is now time to come down to earth. If the Government continues with its strong-arm tactics, it should be ready to confront a tsunami. After all, arrogance does bring agony.
The Congress – Government face-off that is now publicly evident in the
manner in which Baba Ramdev was received by 4 ministers at the instance of
the Prime Minister and invited for negotiations at Claridges Hotel – only to
be followed by the volte face of Police atrocity against 50000 innocent
citizens at Ramlila Maidan in the dead of night of June 4.
Some points occurred to me and I am sharing my thoughts aloud. This follows
articles by me (Sandhya), Smt Nancy Kaul and Smt Radha Rajan on this subject
at www.vijayvaani.com <http://www.vijayvaani.com/> and subsequent exchanges
with friends. Setting aside all emotions, I personally feel that the episode
– Whatever overt power she may still exercise over Congress and
Government, Sonia Gandhi is on a weak wicket, which is getting weaker,
though this may not be readily apparent as yet
– In fact, Sonia Gandhi may derive more power from the pusillanimity
of the BJP and some RSS ‘thekedars’ who primed Baba Ramdev to lead a
movement that was destined to be aborted [by them, for her] and thus help
Sonia to maintain her stranglehold over the Government via the NAC and the
Anna Hazare-Lokpal agenda – except that that is moving towards utter failure
– Sonia Gandhi’s Western support base has fractured and she knows
it, which is why she is desperate to ram Rahul Gandhi into the PM post, but
this desperation is making her and Rahul make costly mistakes [like Muslims
are surely going to perk up to the fact that Christian surrogates are being
primed for the post, and they will let their resentment show in some way.]
– The political establishment in London and Washington can see that
she is politically in the ‘diminishing returns’ mode and that Rahul is a
non-starter. So they are unlikely to invest energy in her. Just as they
dumped the unpopular Mubarak so that they could stay put behind the scenes
in Egypt, so they will not give momentum to her fight with Manmohan Singh
and the sections of Government and Bureaucracy that are uncomfortable with
Sonia and her behaviour.
– That leaves Sonia Gandhi with only the Church (Vatican and all the
rest) and their approach is muscular and aggressive, as if India is Latin
America, and this mistake will prove costly for her.
– Sonia is left with very poor allies who determine her agenda in
public [because she does not speak so as not to commit herself to a position
from which she may need to resile later; ditto for Rahul Gandhi]. These are
Digvijay Singh [who never recovered from the shock of his defeat in MP],
Anil Shastri who attacks her enemies via the Congress mouthpiece, and Kapil
Sibal who is actually a lawyer and not a politician. There is not a single
Congress stalwart batting on behalf of Sonia Gandhi today, and hence she is
not going very far. Pranab Mukherjee, who is the Government troubleshooter,
quietly slunk away when he realised the agenda has shifted from Government
to Congress/Sonia, and that should tell us a lot. Even P Chidambaram is
keeping a low profile.
These are my random thoughts on the events of the past week, and I just
wanted to put them across.