Monday, November 01, 2004

Kitne Aadmi Hain?
, Sardar Manmohan Singh!

Sushil Kumar Shinde has just been unceremoniously transferred to a ceremonial post. The former chief minister of Maharashtra is the new governor of Andhra Pradesh.

Mr Shivraj Patil, who is India’s home minister and a former Maharashtra chief minister a la Shinde, is a fitter candidate for the gubernatorial job.

He has proved, in just about five months, that he’s incapable of handling the home affairs. And if Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa is to be believed, he is nastier than he is stupid.

Reports suggest Jaya has taped a conversation with Mr Patil where he says he is sacking the state’s governor because he did not host a tea party for MLAs on Independence Day. Mr Patil should be sacked just for not maintaining the basics of decorum in Centre-State talks.

As I write this, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is holding a meeting with his ministers to assess the work they have done in the past six months. He should take to task Mr Patil and other senior leaders like him, who function independently of the Prime Minister and common sense.

We present the Top Three.

1. Shivraj V. Patil: Veteran politician. Elder statesman look. Sophisticated in attire and language. Minister of Home Affairs.

He was welcomed by eruption of violence and separatism in the Northeast. He fiddled as Manipur burnt. The talks with Kashmiri separatists came to a halt.

He allowed Andhra Pradesh to lift a ban on the People’s War, the mass-murder-maniacs, who are now freely brandishing their guns and terrorising people.

Can you imagine West Bengal allowing ULFA to operate from their territory? PW spells horror in Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and parts of Maharashtra. And Andhra is letting them operate freely.

PW believes in “Power Flows from The Barrel of a Gun.” And the state Congress leaders believe they can talk into that barrel and Mr Patil believes that.

2. K. NATWAR SINGH: Former diplomat and former external affairs minister. Now External Affairs Minister.

He barred the Chief Election Commissioner Krishnamurthy from going to the United States. The CEC was invited as an election observer.

Natwar Singh did not even consult the Prime Minister before doing this. The Prime Minister later intervened and cut the external affairs ministry to size.

Natwar is also in a time warp. The last time he was in the hot seat, the Cold War was not a distant past. So when he came back, he still hears ghosts of Cold War in the corridors of South Block. He is still in an anti-US propagandist mode.

He is also senior to the Prime Minister in politics, so presumes he can take his decision on his own. All our past governments, the Prime Minister’s Office has had the driving force in foreign policy matters, but this time the cart is wheeling on its own.

3. S. JAIPAL REDDY: Minister of Information and Broadcasting. The less said the better. Informed people call him the no. 2 in the Information and Broadcasting ministry. Guess the no. 1? Navin Chawla, I&B Secretary. Reddy is clueless about his job. At a time when any other minister would have had his hands full, he spends his time doing nothing. Well if he did something, we would know: Prasar Bharti is still in a bad shape, cable TV industry is a mess, censorship is bad case, foreign investment in media is hanging fire.

If you are in a generous mood, dear Prime Minister give the country a bonus this Diwali.

SHARAD PAWAR: He quit the Congress because he could not see Sonia Gandhi become the Prime Minister of India. But he is with her because she made Manmohan Singh the Prime Minister of India. And now that he is a minister in Singh’s Cabinet, he should better know who is the boss.

It has been unfortunate for the agriculture ministry that soon after Pawar took over, Maharashtra elections were announced. He got busy.

As if that was not enough, he fought the cricket elections. Though his party won, he lost his party’s claim to chief ministership, Jagmohan Dalmiya snatched the cricket bat from his hand.

And the agriculture ministry lost a lot of time in the year, it needed urgent attention. Last year was very bad for farmers across the country. The coming years looks worse. Mr Pawar looks ill.

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