Agree that nobody whatsoever great he may be is the repository of all the worldly knowledge and experiences on all areas of human activities including national governance. Even if somebody claims for the same and get away with whatever he thinks, he may be mostly taking advantage of his privilege position, and he is either an arrogant fool or a dictator. If PM Modi has been thinking so about himself, as alleged by many, he is not right. He should be dissuaded with forceful arguments and logic by people having credible track record. However, if he is consulting the right people and experts from the ‘available lots’, then why there is hullaballoo? Is the hullaballoo there to fill newspaper pages or for one’s presence felt?
Let us examine the issue:
Here, this author is referring a column published in recent past in The Telegraph under the title “Crisis-hit India needs a leader who listens, not one focused on building his brand” authored by Ramachandra Guha, famously known as Gandhian Historian, author, and a privileged columnist as his columns use to publish in leading national newspapers regularly. In the column, Guha’s focus is mostly on PM Narendra Modi alleging that he is not listening to experts, and working on his own knowledge and convictions unlike his predecessors such as J. L. Nehru, Indira Gandhi and P. V. Narasinha Rao, who used to consult eminent personalities such as C. Rajagopalachari, Dr. S. P. Mukharjee, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, R. K. Shanmukham Chetty, Jayaprakash Narayan and A. B. Vajpayee respectively. He writes and this author quotes, “When, back in April 2020, I urged the prime minister to get the best minds on board to advise his government, the idealism underlying my proposal stemmed from my professional background. As a historian, I had known of several instances when Indian prime ministers had set aside their partisan prejudices and asked Opposition politicians to help them.”
Rama Guha gave examples that J. L. Nehru requested C. Rajagopalachari to lead a peace delegation to the West in the 1960s at the height of the Cold War, Indira Gandhi requested Jayaprakash Narayan to alert the world to the refugee crisis emanating from the Pakistani army’s crackdown on East Bengal in 1971, and P. V. Narsinha Rao requested Atal Bihari Vajpayee to lead a Government of India delegation to present India’s case for Kashmir to the United Nations in 1994. And also he noted that Nehru-Patel appointment non-Congress leaders such as Chetty, Ambedkar and Mukharjee in their government as first Finance Minister, Law Minister and Industry Minister respectively.
While Rajagopalchari, Jayaprakash and Vajpayee services were used for nation’s external affairs issues; all the ministers named above had to resign from the government before they complete their full-terms. We also know Dr. Ambedkar was not allowed to be reelected to Lok Sabha by Congress Party under the leadership of the then PM himself and Dr. Mukharjee was killed in Srinagar jail, who was arrested protesting inclusion of Art370, which gave special status and flag to J&K, in a conspiracy involving the then PM J. L. Nehru which was revealed by none other than former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2004.
Here, this author reminds those who say former PMs were listening to others with examples:
1. If Nehru had listened to his Dy. PM and his cabinet’s wisdom, then there would probably have no Kashmir issue hunting India for seven decades in international forums, and how long the same would continue, nobody can say for sure. He on his own went ahead advocating ‘plebiscite’ opening a Pandora box for several bloody conflicts in South Asia for generations in his misconceived quest to be known as man of peace in international politics.
2. China would not have border dispute with India, had Nehru’s India not help China conquer Tibet.
3. Nepal would not have been an additional problem for India in north, had Nehru not rejected Nepal King’s offer of joining India and made it one of the provinces of the country.
4. Historian writes that Modi believes in “hard work, not Harvard”. If earlier PMs were listening to Harvard, why then India had underutilized her economic growth prospect, and so mocked with remark of ‘Hindu rate of growth’ in Bretton Wood forums having close association with Harvard when China had double-digit growth?
5. In 2007, Indian Government appointed Nobel laureate Economist and academician having experience of heading London School of Economics and now a Harvard Professor Dr. Amartya Sen to build a university of international repute called Nalanda University. Here, this author wants to mention that modern economy is university-driven. (Refer my column: Post-Covid19, let’s work to get world-class degree in India). Till 2014, Dr. Sen was heading Nalanda University project. Yet, the university was a non-starter, and there is allegation of financial misappropriation against him.
6. In 2014, the then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, a Harvard MBA and Law graduate, in his address to Davos annual business jamboree, said, “BJP PM nominee’s economics knowledge can be written on the back of a postage stamp”, while his (Chidambaram) achievement was: He inherited an economy growing above 8%, for which he appreciated his predecessor, an Indian college educated, Jashwant Singh. While he left the ministry, Indian economy growth was 4.4%.
Apart from this, under his custodianship of finance ministry, Indian banks were victims of large-scale banking frauds and got high Non-Performing Assets. Besides, during his tenure in Finance Ministry, he was blessed to get guidance from an Oxbridge educated economist PM and Economic Advisories from Harvard fraternity as Economic Advisers.
It is not only Rama Guha accuses PM Modi for not listening to experts but also many others columnists have same kind of allegations. As a leading columnist, Rama Guha himself deserves Modi’s attention. But, whether PM Modi listens to Guha or not, let’s discuss latter’s intellectual credentials. In 2018, he, a celebrated vegetarian, tweeted along with photo holding beef plate, “After a magical morning in Old Goa we had lunch in Panaji, where -since this is a BJP ruled state- I decided to eat beef in celebration.” What for did Guha tweet this? My interpretation of this issue is: He did this intentionally inviting angry reaction from people, to destroy social harmony so that he could write column after column blaming government and earn. As people including this writer questioned his intellectual credential over his beef tweet, he later deleted the same.
He also accused Hindutva forces for murder of journalist Gouri Lankesh within minutes of her murder. But, after three years of Congress workers arrest in this murder cases, eminent Gandhian Historian Guha has not felt it necessary to correct his misrepresentation of fact. Recently, he is in a mission of sabotaging Central Vista project with this or that excuse shifting his expertise from Gandhian historian to secular dietician to crime investigator to cricket administrator to (now) environmentalist-cum-city planner ignoring the facts among others that (1)Congress Party planned to go for Central Vista in 2012, (2) The age of existing Parliament Building of India and its security, (3) Employment opportunity that the project has offered during pandemic, (4) Wise support by eminent industrialist such as Ratan Tata, and last but not least (5) Supreme Court clearance to the project after examining different aspects of the projects.
Now, my potent questions are: Are there political leaders in our country at present with stature of C. Rajgopalchari, Dr. S. P. Mukharjee, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, R. K. Shanmukham Chetty, Jayaprakash Narayan and A. B. Vajpayee? Now, we have leader like Sonia Gandhi, who in the all party meeting supported government initiative in Air India plane hijack hostage crisis in 1999, while outside engaged her party leaders’ instigating hostage family members to agitate which forced government to take unfortunate hasty decision of releasing dreaded terrorists; Rahul Gandhi, who hold secret parley with Chinese embassy, which he denied first but acknowledge only after shown proof, when Indian Army was face to face with PLA in Doklam Plateau; Sharad Pawar, who had link with dreaded underworld don Dawood Ibrahim; Yashwant Sinha who instigated government to go for war against China quoting Balakot Air strike when country was lockdown due to dreaded pandemic; Akhilesh Yadav, the former CM of India’s largest state in population, who suggested people not to take Covid19 vaccines branding it BJP vaccine, and suggested people to wait till his government come to power; etc. etc.
Now, post-recently concluded assembly elections to four states and one union territory, national party BJP came to power in one states and one union territory, and three regional parties came to power in three states. Except West Bengal, there is no post-poll violence in any other states. But, the entire opposition is silent on WB violence. Were politicians like C. Rajgopalchari, Dr. S. P. Mukharjee, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Jayaprakash Narayan and A. B. Vajpayee present now, would they have remained silent? WB voters are now facing what Kashmir Pandits had encountered in 1989-91 in Kashmir valley. Had J. L. Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi time opposition leaders went to Pakistan to beg her leaders help to remove their PMs? Had ever country’s Finance Minister (Chidambaram) raised opposition PM candidate’s credibility in international forum? Had ever country’s External Affairs Minister (Salman Khurshid) criticised Supreme Court and Election Commission of India in international forum?
In view of this, this author would rather say what Rama Guha and his likes write were to fill newspaper pages and to earn for their breads. Last but not least is: After reading this column, nobody should think that this author is opposed to expert views in governance provided genuine experts are available.