Date: 4/3/2006


Title: Those terming Sonia's resignation a drama should take resignations from their own partymen'////// Intro: Translated text of RSS ideologue M G Vaidya's column 'Bhashya' in the RSS journal Tarun Bharat////// Author: Translated from Marathi by Vivek Deshpande////// Publication: The Indian Express////// Dated: March 28, 2006 ////// Congress President Sonia Gandhi resigning from National Advisory Council chairpersonship and Parliament membership is a good thing to have happened. It would, perhaps, have been enough to resign from the NAC, but one must open-heartedly accept that by resigning from Parliament too, she has exhibited political maturity and acumen. /////// Jaya Bachchan's Rajya Sabha membership was cancelled as she was holding an office of profit in an Uttar Pradesh government corporation. Jaya had to face this situation due to a complaint by some private individual. There are, and were in the past, many such holders of the so-called offices of profit. Dr Karan Singh, after resigning from his parliamentary membership, had stated that the office of profit he was holding was also held previously by the late Narasimha Rao and A B Vajpayee. What Singh said must be true. But no one had raked up the issue then. If no one had raked up the Jaya Bachchan issue either, everything would have been normal. The Samajwadi Party has accused the Congress of providing the provocation. If that is true, then one will have to say that the weapon used by the Congress against the SP government in UP has boomeranged. ////// Let there be no doubt that Congressmen will publicise this issue as one that adds luster to Sonia Gandhi's image as an embodiment of sacrifice. Similarly, it is on expected lines that the Opposition will term it a drama. All this is in tune with the style of Indian politics. There is, however, a qualitative difference between Sonia Gandhi's latest move and her previous decision not to accept prime ministership. Refusing prime ministership had reflected her desperation; there was nothing like sacrifice in it. And all except Congressmen are convinced about it. The Congress had got a chance to form a government in 2004 because the BJP wasn't able to muster a majority. Though it didn't have full majority, the Congress was the single largest party. That is why Sonia Gandhi had gone to the president with an eye on power. But, in Rashtrapati Bhavan, she realised that she could not become prime minister and hence she pushed Manmohan Singh's name. It was a desperate situation for her. It wasn't that she was not fascinated by power. In 1998, when Jayalalithaa had withdrawn support, the then prime minister, A B Vajpayee, had lost majority and Sonia Gandhi had staked her claim to power. Her plan was foiled by Mulayam Singh, who had refused to support her as a prime ministerial candidate. So, in 2004, when Congressmen cried hoarse to publicise the sacrifice theory, there were no takers for it anywhere. ////// This time the situation is different. She had the option of retaining her Parliament post after quitting the NAC chairpersonship. That she would have been successful in using it wasn't guaranteed, but the government could have deleted the NAC chairpersonship from the list of offices of profit through an ordinance. Some people got a whiff of this move and they started planning their counter-moves accordingly. A political party doesn't have the necessary sensitivity to decide not to bring such an ordinance. Similarly, it is not a must for a political party to care for political appropriateness. ////// Of late, the Mulayam Singh government has passed a bill to save legislatorships of MLAs holding offices of profit. Not only that, it has a retrospective effect too. The Opposition opposed it slightly, because, there are MLAs holding offices of profit in that camp too. The Centre, too, could have brought in an ordinance, and they were thinking of doing it too. But Sonia Gandhi must be praised that she didn't allow it. The Congress's black history of putting the entire country into jail to keep its power intact isn 't too old to be forgotten. Sonia Gandhi deserves praise because she didn't allow the government to take the wrong path. ////// It is natural for parties and individuals neck-deep in politics to think of gains and losses. If Sonia has done so, she needn't be criticised for it. The Congress is going to benefit from her decision. Her quitting Parliament doesn't mean she is taking political sanyas. In fact, she will contest an election again from Rae Bareli. And considering today's situation, she might return with a greater margin of victory. Even Jaya Bachchan and Karan Singh have the option of facing fresh polls. But the Samajwadi Party hasn't used this option. That Sonia Gandhi has used it is a sign of her political maturity. This will not benefit Sonia alone. It can instill new life in the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh. ////// The UP elections will be held within a year. It is only expected that the so-called sacrifice by Sonia will be capitalised upon. ////// The advantage of her decision outside UP is that it has taken the wind out of the sails of the opposition campaign against her and the Congress. Had the UPA government brought an ordinance to save Sonia's post, it would have put a potent weapon into the hands of the opponents. They would have created such a row over it, that the Congress would have found it difficult to counter. Already it is under a cloud after the Volcker report and the Scorpene deal. That has been taken care of by Sonia's decision. It will soon be evident how the Congress will use the Sonia episode. But if they exaggerate the claims, then they might be in trouble. The whole country isn' t, after all, Rae Bareli. ///// If the policies of the Left parties are considered against the backdrop of Sonia Gandhi's decision, one gets to know how thick-skinned political parties can get. Actually, all MPs holding offices of profit should follow Karan Singh's example and resign. It is not illegal to wait for the government to bring in an ordinance, but improper it certainly is. Manmohan Singh has said that the ordinance option was still open. But when was that option closed? It is proper that his government shouldn't bring in the ordinance. He should table a bill defining "office of profit" and should try to have it passed unanimously, not by a majority. All parties have MLAs and MPs holding such offices. So it won't be impossible to garner unanimous support. But it is not suitable for any of the political parties to wait for a bill or wait for someone to move the Election Commission over it. Besides, it will not be to their advantage. ///// Those terming Sonia's resignation as a drama should at least take resignations from their own partymen. That would render Sonia's "drama" less attractive. Else, the Congress would get the opportunity to profess the high moral authority of its leader. They would say, "See, she quit even before the Election Commission or President could indict her. She even didn't allow an ordinance to protect her post. See how others are sticking to their positions. They aren't sure of their popularity. That's why they are waiting for an ordinance to be able to continue holding those posts." The opponents shouldn't give this opportunity to the Congress. ////// It doesn't mean that such a law isn't needed. It should be clearly defined which posts the people's representatives in a parliamentary democracy must refrain from and, if the need arises to hold such a post, what are the norms for it. Since all this is in everybody's interest, it won't be difficult to pass such a law. It would be appropriate on Manmohan Singh's part to think about this and not create confusion by saying that the ordinance option is still open.////// 000000000