being discussed in the preceding weeks? Even if it was the case that wisdom suddenly dawned on a newly enlightened party vice president, was the method adopted to seek change of policy and the language used appropriate? And all this anger directed at a government led by a prime minister who has never deviated from party line. Why admonish the government in public?
That error of judgement with respect to the manner of expressing dissent and the visible lack of grace has angered many around the country. It was like Rajiv’s Begumpet admonishment. The issue was not the admonishment. It was the method, manner and mode of expression. Poor Anjaiah was in his own state capital. Manmohan Singh was on foreign soil with a series of important meetings lined up. That made the episode even more unwholesome.
Then followed the Pavlovian response of sycophantic junior ministers, supplicants in the Delhi durbar, jumping up to praise their leader’s criticism of their own government. None considered it necessary to quit as minister, give up the Lutyens bungalow, white Ambassador with red light, and all the perks of office before belittling one’s own government. Will such self-serving radicalism be rewarded with votes?
This is not the first time that members of the Sonia Gandhi Congress and ministers in the Manmohan Singh government have happily hunted with the hounds and run with the hares. Nor is it the first time that a hapless prime minister has been snubbed by his own party while representing the country abroad. Whether or not Manmohan Singh will say “enough is enough” and stop carrying the can for his party remains to be seen. He has been a loyal soldier of the party, never raising his own profile and diligently doing his work. He may well continue to do that, not worrying about his public image or political legacy.
But the episode last Friday raises serious questions about the political strategy of Rahul Gandhi. Rahul has for long toyed with the option of either succeeding Manmohan Singh or dethroning him. Part of the problem with the second Manmohan Singh government has been this confusion. Should the Rahul loyalists praise the government and inherit their success or criticise the government and grab the reins?
Some media commentators have drawn a parallel with Indira Gandhi’s revolt against the Congress Syndicate and Rajiv’s own attacks against the “party bosses”. The parallels don’t work. Indira mobilised the party’s