Vantage point

Monday, June 14, 2004


Firstly, the media is making Vajpayee's vacation into a news story. Why do I care where this guy, who is neither the leader of opposition, nor the BJP president is vacationing? Then he goes and says that the Gujarat riots were a major reason for the electoral defeat. Then the BJP comes and says there is no intention of removing Modi. Then the VHP attacks Vajpayee's senility.

For once, I agree with the VHP. One of the biggest peeves I have had with my fellow-countrymen at large is the fact that Vajpayee is so widely respected by them. It is mind-boggling how the admiration for the guy cuts across all sections of the society. Is it so easy to fool us?

Okay, the man is half-decent. But does he have any power? Does he have a spine?

This question is particularly directed at people who feel "ashamed" that our current PM will be a puppet with no real power. What world were you living in before 13th May 2004?

Consider these points about his Prime Ministerial tenure -

- In these times, the second-most important job in the government is that of the Finance Minister. And yet it took three years for vajpayee to get his choice as the FinMin. Jaswant took up the job as late as 2002. Until then, as a result of a power-tussle between vajpayee and Nagpur, the compromise candidate was Yashwant Sinha. How he bungled his job is well documented, from the petrol price hike, to the UTI fiasco.
Anyway, the point is that the most powerful man in India can;t even choose his own Finance Minister.

- In 1999, during the Kandahar hijacking, vajpayee reportedly was opposed to releasing the terrorists. However, Advani and Jaswant managed to convince him. Advani, for the uninitiated is the so-called Loh-Purush(iron man) of these times

- As an opposition member, ABV had attacked the Congress for corruption. So when Tehelka happened, Vajpayee was in favour of taking actions that will show the BJP as being different from the Congress. But what happened? A few months later he was forced to re-induct Fernandes. This, even though the Samata Party's support was not really that necessary for NDA to remain in power.

- Vajpayee was not in favour of declaring a unilateral ceasefire in J&K in 2001, if press reports are to be believed. However, Advani, and the temporary Defence Minister, Jaswant Singh, made him call it anyhow. the ceasefire led to the attack on the parliament.

- During the Gujarat riots, vajpayee wanted to replace Modi with someone else. As the supposedly top man in BJP/NDA, he could have done so. Even legally, he could have used Article 356. In fact in the past, whenever some such situation occurs, the CM's head rolls. Sudhakar Naik was replaced with Sharad Pawar by Rao during the 1992-93 Mumbai riots.
But no, Vajpayee could not do that. He could not fire someone like Modi. What was Modi's standing before 2002? Did anyone even know his name outside Gujarat?

- yes, it is the DMK that left the NDA. but the process started after the 2001 victory of Jayalalitha in the Assembly elections. the NDA openly made overtures towards her. They applauded her conversion bill. And when the DMK began to feel uncomfortable, Vajpayee did not like it. He was in favour of sticking with DMK. However again, he was overruled, and made to share several platforms with jaya, the same woman who brought down his government in 1998.

Exactly how was Atal Behari Vajpayee worthy of admiration? He did not have the power to stand by his convictions. His flip-flops were innumerable. His foreign policy about turns are legendary.

Remember his reaction to the petrol pump scam? Cancelled all the allotments!!! This decision hit those people who really deserved those pumps, especially families of ex-servicemen.

Even now, as the so-called leader of the NDA, his opinion was that ex-Ministers who lost the Lok Sabha elections should not be pitchforked into the Rajya Sabha. And yet, see what is happening.

Vajpayee is a person who has assiduously tried to appear non-controversial. It is nothing more than what HR folks call "Impression Management".

And the country is falling for it hook line and sinker.

And now we have educated people lamenting that Manmohan will be a puppet!!??

Yes, maybe he will be, but could you not see the strings attached to Vajpayee's limbs?

And people hail this guy as being one of the country's greatest Prime Ministers. This guy!!! Seriously?