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Books highlighting the internal problems in the Congress Government




In the current elections for Parliament in 2014, all the opinion polls have projected that the BJP is going pretty strong and might be reaching a point where it could get a majority in terms of the alliance, the NDA. These polls have also projected that the Congress is going down pretty badly, and might reach a point where it would reach its lowest level. The primary reason for these kind of projections is that there is a wide-spread anger against the Congress party due to a reduced level of growth which has led to a reduced increase in number of jobs, or even jobless growth. In addition, there is the presence of huge amount of corruption that has happened in the past, and very little credibility that the Government has going into the polls. When you also add the fact that there has been sustained inflation, including food prices, all of these provide a harsh public reaction against the Congress.
Now, the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, used to have a clear and honest image. But, the last few years and the various scandals and scams that have come up, have served to tarnish this image. The problems with respect to Coal, called Coalgate, have had a direct impact on the image of Manmohan Singh, and his feelings about his positive legacy seem to have been totally destroyed. A lot of the problems also seem to be from the common perception that he is powerless, that the real power is in the hands of the Gandhi’s – Sonia and Rahul Gandhi; such accusations have been very damaging for the Government and for the Congress party.
These sort of accusations are something that the Congress has been fighting for some time now, and these have been used by the BJP to good effect for now. However, in what has come as a body shock to the Congress, the release of 2 books by insiders have badly jolted the Congress. The first book, by Sanjay Baru, who was the media advisor for Manmohan Singh in his first term essentially projected the Prime Minister as a powerless person, with real power being wielded by Sonia Gandhi; the result was that even though MM Singh was the PM, everybody in the Government knew who the power center really was, and they acted accordingly. Incidents relating to the review of all major decisions by Sonia Gandhi, and especially the fact that when Pranab Mukherjee was the minister and had meetings with US officials, he did not even bother to report back to the PM were horrific to read. Even though you would expect such a book to create some amount of sympathy for the Prime Minister, it does not. Instead it creates a sense of rage against the Gandhi’s, and showcases the Prime Minister as somebody without a spine, who would crawl when he could have bent, and who was ultimately responsible for the sorry state of affairs.
The second books by the former Coal Secretary further demolishes the authority and reputation of the Prime Minister by making the claims that the Prime Minister wanted reform to ensure that scandals and scams such as in coal allocation would not happen, but successive coal ministers ensured that the Prime Minister could not even bring in the required reform. Together these books present a huge danger to the Congress, since there are multiple rounds of voting still left, and the BJP will be sure to use these books to attack the Congress, and specifically the concept of Sonia Gandhi having tolerated corruption, since she was controlling the Government.
The Congress has tried multiple defense mechanisms, such as terming all the allegations as untrue, imputing different motives to the writers, and questioning the timing of the authors. Out of these mechanisms, the one that seems to wring true the most is the one about the timing of the book releases, but it is also true that most authors will try to release books when there can be the maximum impact (and hence more sales), and releasing the book during the elections would be a strategy that the authors have done well by (in terms of sales).
However, no matter any of these above points, I would strongly welcome more such books. There is an incredible opaqueness regarding the matters that have been highlighted (some of what was written about was known in Government and political circles), but large sections of the public do not know these kind of details – especially the concepts of MM Singh having responsibility but not authority, and Sonia Gandhi having authority but no responsibility. The more such books that come from insiders who occupied a ringside view of the system, the more likely is that the voices for reform will get louder.




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