WikiLeaks revelations will only add to the woes of Indiaâ€™s Manmohan Singh
THE woes of India’s Congress and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh never seem to end. As if the numerous corruption scandals that have haunted the government in recent weeks and months were not enough, it has now been hit with the muck of WikiLeaks’ disclosures claiming the governing party bought opposition MPs in Parliament to win a crucial trust vote on the US nuclear deal in 2008.
Not surprisingly, the resurgent opposition, having tasted the blood over the various scandals involving billions of dollars, has gone for Singh’s jugular. The BJP and the left parties have been demanding the prime ministerâ€™s resignation asserting this government doesn’t have the legitimacy to continue for a single moment.
Singh’s timid attempts to â€œexplainâ€ before Parliament haven’t cut any ice with an agitated opposition. Meanwhile, compounding the prime minister’s misery, WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange has trashed his protestations of innocence insisting on the authenticity of the US Embassy cables alleging cash for votes deal. No wonder it was total chaos in Parliament on Tuesday with opposition lawmakers paralyzing the proceedings of the house demanding discussion on the issue or Singh’s resignation. Â This confrontation is only going to deepen in the days and weeks ahead even as a beleaguered nation tries to make sense of the latest case of sleaze in high places.
Even a government that has seen some of the biggest corruption scandals in history surface over the past few months, ironically under a prime minister picked up for the top job because of his pristine clean image, finds it difficult to handle the latest outrage. And the so-called man in the street wonders, how low can we get? Â And for what?
Why was the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government headed by Manmohan Singh so desperate to clinch a nuclear pact with the US under a totally discredited leader despite strong objections from independent nuclear scientists and opposition by allies and partners of the ruling alliance? Was it really worth it considering the horrible mess a scientifically advanced and industrially developed nation like Japan finds itself in today after the devastating earthquake earlier this month?
More worrisome for the people of India, especially for its opinion makers and intellectuals, is the excessive and unhealthy influence the US has come to exercise over the world’s largest and celebrated democracy over the past few years. Â The subsequent WikiLeaks cables, published by The Hindu, reveal how the UPA government has been “briefing” the US officials and diplomats based in India about crucial policy decisions and actions of the government.
For instance, before President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran visited India, the US diplomats were briefed about the Iranian leader’s agenda, assuring the Americans that Delhi wasn’t getting cozy to Tehran. Not long ago, mere suggestion about such a â€œbriefingâ€ would have outraged New Delhi, the proud founder and leader of the Non-Aligned Movement under the first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
While every country has its own priorities and long-term national interests that dictate its foreign policy agenda, nobody expected to see the rising Asian giant, once the leader of the developing world, come under so much foreign pressure. Â It’s all the more unfortunate that this should happen under the leadership of the talented Mr. Clean and the party that once led the movement for India’s Independence.