Grapes are sour

By K.N. Pandita – The story of the fox saying the grapes are sour was once very popular among the stories in the English text book for schoolboys.

After winning a slender majority in 2004 elections Sonia went to Rashtrapati Bhavan to claim the prized post of PM of India. Twenty minutes later she came out to tell the media persons she had made a “renunciation” (tyag) and withdrawn. How suddenly “renunciation” had dawned upon her.? For whom did she make a sacrifice? In Congress’ new lexicon “renunciation is the replacement of the adage “the grapes are sour.”

Congress ruling stalwarts maneuvered Soni’s alternate elevation as chairperson NAC. A hefty budget for this newly created organization, an appendage of PMO, a cabinet rank status and the understanding that all important files go to her for perusal saw the evaporation in thin air of much touted “renunciation”. Overnight, grapes were grapes, succulent and sweet not sour.

UPA government, looking for political crutches, had pandered to Muslim appeasement policy. Modification of history books, reservation, AMU minority status issue, ambivalence over lunacy like that of Yaqub Qureshi on cartoon episode etc. stoutly piloted by sycophants like Arjun Singh had brought not only discredit to Congress but also embarrassment to wider sections of civil society.

Terrorist explosions in Varanasi temple seriously undermined Congress’ popularity among people in UP. It hastened to prompt some Muslim clerics into issuing verdicts (fetwa) against terrorism but not without very ugly reaction from more Muslim conservative segments. Congress timidly returned to its shell.

With by-elections round the corner in UP and given the support of Bachhan house to Amar Singh’s party, Congress apprehended that its election stock in UP was low and arrogantly embarked on a policy of vendetta. First, income tax notice was served on Amitabh Bachhan when he was still convalescing in the hospital in Bombay. Then came the crude handling of Jaya Bachhan against whom a case of using a position of profit was framed through the instrumentality of the Election Commission. Jaya’s exit opened the Pandora ’s Box. It boomeranged on the conspiratorial clique huddled up in 10 Janpath. Sonia frantically pulled out the “renunciation” mantra thus reviving the school book adage of sour grapes.

Why did not Sonia Gandhi tender resignation immediately after the EC notified Jaya? She renounced power and position only when she was convinced that her Congress ally –– the Left — had plans of joining hands with Mulayam’s SP on the issue. What caused her massive frustration was the statement of the Election Commissioner in Assam that all cases of position of profit, including that of Sonia, would be dealt with even handedly. A secret effort to scuttle such a move ended in fiasco. The ladu pulled out the golden adage of sour grapes. But she is going to stand again from Rai Barely. Why did she resign as MP? Demitting the office of NAC chairperson was enough to save her face. The word “renunciation” has never been abused more adroitly.

Many complicated question will arise in the aftermath of Sonia’s resignation. That she was definitely holding the office of profit is proved by tendering her resignation. If Election Commission’s recommendation of retrospective punitive measures in the case of Jaya holds water then the same law will hold true in the case of Sonia and others.

More than the Congress, the Left stands exposed. The Speaker also a holder of office of profit has refused to resign. So have other Left wing MPs though they know that they are loosing the battle. Congress has a clear policy towards them as its allies: let sinking ships sink one and all.

The tainted members, knowing the legal implications of the case, have no option but to resign one by one. But the are only looking for the conditionality in which they will feel safe in saying that “the grapes are sour.”

Most of the MPs in focus holding positions of profit are nominated to the Rajya Sabha. They have not much to loose though some of them were eyeing ministerial posts in next shuffle. Nevertheless, there is a big difference to be inside the house and outside the house.

In closely following the Congress’ Machiavellian strategy, Sonia declared she would fight election surely, and from Rai Bareily undoubtedly. Where is the spirit of sacrifice? Greed incarnate is the moving hand behind the renunciation antics.. She did not wait a minute to make that declaration. It formed part of her resignation address. It clean washes all tall claims of making a sacrifice for the Indian masses and for the Indian secularism.

Never in one full century of its history was Congress’s stock so low as it is today. It has to come out of the trap of vote bank politics. It has to stop playing with the sentiments of Hindus of this country. It has to infuse new blood into its veins and imbue younger generations with a sense of service and sacrifice to India. The days when it could cash on the name of its historical and legendry stalwarts are gone. Winning Rae Bareilly parliamentary seat will not decide the destiny of Congress. It is collective wisdom that should prevail –– Rai Bareilly or no Rai Bareilly. Sonia Gandhi needs to collect around her men of vision, farsightedness, dedication and sincerity and not of sycophants and flatterers and time servers. (The writer is the former Director, Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University, Srinagar).

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