Welcome gifts for Mukherjee and Antony

Sticky issues for new ministers

So Pranab Mukherjee is the new foreign minister of India. A K Antony takes over his defence portfolio. [They didn’t find anyone, unfortunately, to take over the home ministry from Shivraj Patil]

It was the M K Narayanan, the national security advisor, who gave Mukherjee his welcome gift. His comments of India not having ‘clinching evidence’ to convince an Indian judge got interpreted as India not having clinching evidence at all. The Pakistanis celebrated, of course. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had to step in and announce that the celebrations were unwarranted as India did, after all, have ‘credible evidence’ against Pakistan. Pranab Mukherjee, fresh from stating that the ISI has penetrated the Indian army, will have to figure out what to do next.

A K Antony, known for his honesty (so we are told), got his gift from his predecessor. India, Mukherjee announced, will not allow middlemen in defence deals and get foreign arms suppliers to sign integrity pacts to the effect. It’s for Antony to work this one out.

7 thoughts on “Welcome gifts for Mukherjee and Antony”

  1. The choice of Pranab for External Affairs Minister is a rather odd choice.

    For one, you need a younger person to do the hectic travelling associated with that portfolio. Pranab is past 70 !!!

    For another, it will take him away from the domestic scene a lot, where he has been doing a lot of political management that an otherwise politically inexperienced Manmohan Singh would have found difficult to handle.

    Thirdly, this smacks of the old saying “Damning with faint praise” – if Pranab was so crucial and experienced, why not make him the Home Minister, which is the post that is confronted with the biggest challenges – Naxalism, Terrorism, Law&Order in NE and elsewhere etc.

    I think, personally, either Sonia or the PM (more likely Sonia – since the PM has hardly any power ambitions) felt threatened by Pranab Mukherjee – enough to shunt him away from the domestic scene. All reports state how Mukherjee has been heading so many GoMs – the crucial committees that take the most important decisions, and managing many of the crises in the party and with the allies.

    Fit for the MEA or not, atleast Pranab is a competent Minister, who is likely to make a good fist of his work. But, as you said, the saddest part is that Shivraj Patil is still the Home Minister – he is the epitome of the hapless incompetent, who is literally asleep at the switch.

  2. >> Clinching evidence to convince an Indian judge.. >>

    Hmm, I saw the interview and I didnt interpret it like that at all. He spoke in a much broader sense and messed up. He added those words later as an afterthought. Perhaps, Karan Thapar should have edited the show before airing it.

    In any case, the question of Indian judges does not arise as B.Raman pointed out yesterday on CNBC-TV18. We are talking about evidence of Pakistani (ISI) involvement here. This is beyond the reach of Indian courts – therefore they cannot rule on it. You just need to look at the recent spate of judgements on the 1993 Mumbai blasts, even though there is plenty of evidence against the ISI – the courts cant pass judgements against a foreign agency.

  3. I agree with realitycheck. I watched the episode of Devil’s Advocate in question. M K Narayan did say “We dont have clinching evidence” but he prefaced it with “We have got as good evidence as we possibly can get in a case of this nature”. To take one line from the whole interview and paint the NSA as soft on terrorism is not fair. Sorry Pakis, but in this regard your celebrations seem to have been a little premature.

  4. I am not sure it matters what M K Narayan prefaced it with when he places the bar (for evidence) pretty high all by himself. If it’s not about pulling someone into Indian courts or International criminal court (never an alternative), why bring it up? Mr. Narayan can’t have it both ways. But what if he did have clinching evidence – would he attack Pak with such evidence? The back and forth with India-Pak is all about words (and one-up-man-ship) – better be careful what one says under such circumstances.

  5. I’m surprised they haven’t found someone to takeover as Home Minister. The position is of great importance since India’s police functions are under the purview of the Home Minister.

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