By B. Raman
Dear Mr. Prime Minister: Like millions of ordinary Indians, I too watched from the beginning till the end your televised interaction with selected journalists from the electronic media on February 16.
You had never spoken to us, the ordinary people of India, on the various scams which have rocked the country one after another since August last year. Our only source of information has been the media.
As the citizens of this country, who put your party in power, we had a right to expect that you will talk to us and explain to us what is the truth and how you intend arresting and reversing the rot that has set in and the continuing decline in the credibility and image of India as a result of the stories of these scams .
These stories — whether correct wholly or only partly — have brought out one thing loud and clear — the ineptitude and incompetence of your government, the poor supervision, which seems to prevail in many Ministries and offices, including the Prime Minister’s Office, and the insensitivity of many senior members of your Cabinet to public concerns over these alleged scams.
Corruption is nothing new, but the magnitude of it as seen since you came to power has been highly disturbing . What is new is the ineptitude, the incompetence and the lack of supervision, which seem to prevail since you came to power — the like of which one had not seen under any other Prime Minister of India since we became independent in 1947.
You try to blame your difficulties and embarrassments on your having to run a coalition. You are not the first Prime Minister having to run the country at the head of a coalition. V.P. Singh, Chandrasekhar, Deve Gowda, Inder Gujral and Atal Behari Vajpayee headed coalitions too. Despite this, they gave us a government which worked as a team and which did not pull in different directions. I can’t recall any instance under the previous coalitions, where a Minister repeatedly circumvented the instructions of the Prime Minister, without fearing the consequences of his action.
All the previous Prime Ministers, who headed coalition Cabinets, made it clear to their political associates, who the boss was and, who would take important decisions. They never tolerated anyone, who sought to circumvent their instructions. They never let their political allies dictate terms to them.
This is the first time we are seeing a Prime Minister, who tries to earn not the confidence of the people by projecting himself as a strong leader, who will not tolerate any nonsense from his coalition partners, but the pity of the people by projecting himself as a helpless leader, who has nothing but to do what his coalition partners ask him to do.
We watched in utter amazement for one hour on February 16 not the rallying cry of a leader, who has realized the magnitude of the rot and, who is determined to set it right whatever be the consequences to his position as the Prime Minister, but an exercise in self-pity of a leader, who is at the mercy of his coalition partners and does not have the courage to call them to order.
This was the first time we had an opportunity of listening to you on the state of the country in the light of these scams. We were looking forward not to excuses and pretexts to explain away the sins of commission and omission of your government, but to a bold re-assertion of your leadership as the Prime Minister of this great country, who has the courage to face the people of this country in their eyes and reassure them: Thus far and no further.
I have no doubt in my mind that many right-thinking people of India, like me, must have felt ashamed and enraged as they saw the Prime Minister of this country giving out one excuse after another for not being able to govern effectively and for not being able to prevent blatantly wrong decisions and corruption.
You let us down badly, Mr.Prime Minister. You let India down badly.