Why Sonia Gandhi must become Prime Minister – redux

T V R Shenoy echoes The Acorn

Everyone who voted for either the Congress or any of its pre-poll allies knew they were, in effect, casting a vote for Sonia Gandhi as prime minister. That was also clear to everyone who voted for the Left Front, whose leaders had the guts to declare that she was their choice too for prime minister. Put these all together — the Congress, its pre-poll allies, the Communists — and what we have is a clear majority of the Lok Sabha. A move to make someone other than Sonia Gandhi the prime minister is an insult to the voters.

It should be PM Sonia/T V R Shenoy

Her decision goes against the spirit of the verdict

I am no admirer of Sonia Gandhi’s politics and disapprove of almost everything that she has said or done, but I did hope she would humbly accept the prime ministership of India. It is nothing to do with any particular political philosophy, merely respect for democracy.

It is a simple proposition: Who did the people of India vote for as their prime minister? The fourteenth general election was cast as a battle between Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Sonia Gandhi. The latter won.

Vajpayee’s party has almost fifty fewer seats in this Lok Sabha than in the last one. His coalition, the National Democratic Alliance, is down by well over a hundred seats. Sonia Gandhi is the leader of the largest single party and of the largest front. But it goes beyond mere numbers, doesn’t it?

Everyone who voted for either the Congress or any of its pre-poll allies knew they were, in effect, casting a vote for Sonia Gandhi as prime minister. That was also clear to everyone who voted for the Left Front, whose leaders had the guts to declare that she was their choice too for prime minister. Put these all together — the Congress, its pre-poll allies, the Communists — and what we have is a clear majority of the Lok Sabha. A move to make someone other than Sonia Gandhi the prime minister is an insult to the voters.

Manmohan Singh is a good man. But if the Congress is forced to look away from Sonia Gandhi, he should be the last person his party should choose. It is a fundamental principle of the British school of democracy which we adopted that a prime minister belong to the House which is directly elected by the people. Manmohan Singh is, lest we forget, a man who did not contest the fourteenth general election. He has no right, no mandate whatsoever, to be the chief executive of any democracy.

What exactly are the reasons which drove Sonia Gandhi to make the dramatic decision to spurn the president’s invitation to form the next government? Is it because of the publicly stated revulsion of the BJP? Is it because of the wild gyrations of the stock markets? Is it fear of damaging India’s image across the world? None of these arguments holds water.

The prime minister — and this is an argument I have made more than once in these pages — should always be someone who has received a mandate directly from the people. It is the voters, acting through their elected representatives on the treasury benches, who choose a prime minister. That right is not given to the opposition.

Make no mistake about it, I have immense respect and affection for several of the leaders of the opposition. I could empathise with an anguished Sushma Swaraj when she announced that she would resign rather than acknowledge a person of foreign origin as prime minister from the floor of Parliament. But that is a battle which should be fought in the next general election, it is enough today to respect the verdict of the polls which have just concluded.

If the opposition does not have the right to choose the prime minister, who gave a veto to the stock exchange? I have heard all the arguments. When Sonia Gandhi was set to become the prime minister, the Sensex crashed. The markets bounced back when Manmohan Singh’s name was floated.

This has to be among the most puerile set of sentences I have ever heard! The prime minister needs the support of the Lok Sabha, not that of a (relatively) small set of operators. Rather involuntarily, I echo A.B. Bardhan, “The markets be damned!”

How about Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin? Tavleen Singh spoke for many in her column this past Monday and I shall not repeat her arguments. Suffice it to say that the warmth of nationhood and the cold legality of citizenship are different things. I sympathise, but confess I am curiously unmoved by all this. I object to Sonia Gandhi being prime minister because of her utter lack of qualifications. Her Italian birth is the last and least of these.

Won’t other capitals snigger? What if they do? Do you think Americans cared a fig when they elected the openly isolationist George Bush? Great nations choose their own destiny, and India has chosen Sonia Gandhi.

The rumour mills of Delhi are busy. Some say Sonia Gandhi fears for her security. Others that she is trying to avoid polarisation of opinion. Or that she fears secret documents about past deals are coming into the open. These should be treated with as much respect as rumours deserve.

First, Sonia Gandhi is the de facto prime minister for the life of this Lok Sabha irrespective of who stays on Race Course Road. Second, division of opinion goes back at least to the time Messrs Pawar and Sangma split the Congress. Third, it will be an independent judiciary which sets the pace for any investigation.

The most insidious claim is that she has acted in the tradition of Sakyamuni by ‘‘renouncing’’ office. Actually, it is closer to Arjuna throwing down his bow at Kurukshetra. That was not ‘‘renunciation’’ but abdication of responsibility.

A few feel that Sonia Gandhi’s abdication is a pat on the back for the opposition. Perhaps, but it is also a whack on the face of Indian democracy.

Do I like the thought of Sonia Gandhi as prime minister? Of course not! Do I respect the right of the voters in over 272 constituencies to disagree with me? Absolutely!

© 2004: Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd. All rights reserved throughout the world. [Indian Express]

Related Link: Why Sonia Gandhi must become prime minister

Tom Utley of the London Telegraph thinks “(Sonia) was the Trojan horse who smuggled Dr Singh into office: the voters wanted her; we have no way of knowing whether or not they wanted him.”

5 thoughts on “Why Sonia Gandhi must become Prime Minister – redux”

  1. If Sonia as a PM takes any decision that will be questioned by the sangh and her actions will be suspected and thats fodder to the sanghis. so Gandhi’s decision is right.

  2. * First Britishers elect a foreign born as their PM then they suggest us.

    Fish = congress can’t live without water = Gandhi dynsty
    Britishers policy was ‘divide and rule’… They tried to divide Sikhs and Hindus. They divide our country. Why there is bar in US constitution to be a president of foreign born?
    First Brishers elect a foreign born as their PM then they suggest us.

    If Sonia is never eager to be PM then why in 1998 not having majority, she met President claimed to form the government

    ‘G’ in the Gandhi dynasty stands for globalisation of Indian political power, marriages and religion.

    GC appears to be the Gandhi Clause: you are automatically eligible to rule if you are associated with the ruling Gandhi clan. It does not matter what your personal achievements are, what your attributes are.

    ˜Wake up O Indians: you are as great, if not greater than the white man. You can do as well, if not better than the white man. Not only did your forefathers devise some of the basic principles of mathematics, astrology, and surgical medicine, not only are your people among the most brilliant in the world today” Francois Gautier, a christian and white, correspondent in South Asia for Ouest-France

    By Premendra Agrawl, Raipur, India
    Comindia2000@epatra.com

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