Debate Magazine

Daljit, Baru and Bhagwati: What Do They Have in Common?

Posted on the 28 April 2014 by M Shekhar @politicscope
In any sports tournament, it is the champion team which is the overall winner. The losers bear the brunt and the cracks in the inefficient teams are generally exposed. Same is with the elections.
DALJIT, BARU AND BHAGWATI: WHAT DO THEY HAVE IN COMMON? As the general elections coming to an end, Manmohan's families and friends have started deserting him. All the poll predictions have regularly showed the ten-year UPA government, led by Congress at the receiving end. According to these surveys, Congress is not going to become champion, when poll results are declared on May 16. Also, the cracks in the Congress camp are visibly seen. In fact, the opposition party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has vigorously raised the issue of 'puppet', 'weak' and 'silent' prime minister running under the super powerful Congress president, Sonia Gandhi. However, these comments must not have hurt Manmohan Singh as much but what hurts him more, his deserting kith and kin exposing him publicly at the time of elections. There is commonality among Daljit Singh Kohli, Jagdish Bhagwati and Sanjay Baru - at the time of general elections, as these people have deserted Manmohan Singh.
Disenchanted with India's slow growth, Professor Bhagwati became staunchest critic of Singh's policy in the last couple of years. Daljit Singh Kohli was apolitical figure and an unknown textile exporter based in Amrtisar, hardly dabbled in politics despite his brother being PM of the country for the last ten-year. But he surprised last week when at a BJP rally in Amrtisar, as he was seen hugging the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi. The brother's decision to go to the opposite camp even surprised Manmohan Singh and his family. "I feel very sad. But I have no control. They are all adults," said prime minister in Delhi on Daljit's announcement. The PM's brother has also decided to campaign for Arun Jaitley, BJP Lok Sabha candidate from Amritsar. Daljit's desertion was a huge jolt rather setback in PM's family. Over the years, prime minister's inaction on scams and financial matters has attracted a lot of contradiction and criticism from different quarters.
But Daljit's desertion is not the first, when a friend had already upped the ante against the PM in recent years.
"This book is a defence of his prime ministership ... Somebody had to stand up and defend this old man."
- Sanjay Baru
Remember, Columbia Professor Jagdish Bhagwati - Manmohan's friend for decades and a leading economist based in the United States. Their friendship goes a long way when both were student at Cambridge University. Now, he has openly spoken about his role in Modi government, if it comes to power. Bhagwati was also among the first to support Manmohanics in 1991 when as the finance minister, Singh initiated liberalisation of Indian economy. Disenchanted with India's slow growth, Professor Bhagwati became staunchest critic of Singh's policy in the last couple of years. He said that Singh failed to stimulate growth, and not initiated reforms in tax, labour, privatisation and foreign investment. The octogenarian US professor has openly championed the cause of Gujarat Model and also written a book with his protégé and another Columbia economist Arvind Panagariya.
Even an ex-colleague did not spare Manmohan Singh.
What shook prime minister's credibility more than anybody else was release of a book titled 'The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh' by his former media advisor, Sanjay Baru from 2004 to 2008. This book has some explosive revelation on how prime minister was just a caricature to the post while the party president, Sonia Gandhi used to call the shots. "This government is not being run by Manmohan Singh. All the files are being checked by Sonia Gandhi," claimed the book. The Prime Minister Office came in the defence of Manmohan Singh. His daughter Dr. Upinder Singh also defended her father and said, "Nothing but a stab in the back... a huge betrayal of trust" on the book. In defence, Baru said that his book is not a betrayal. "This book is a defence of his prime ministership ... Somebody had to stand up and defend this old man," he said.
In support of taking bold steps for the Indian economy, Manmohan Singh had famously said during presenting the budget in 1991 by quoting Victor Hugo, "No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come". Twenty three years later, it is not the famous 'idea' but desertion around PM's circle  are making headlines.
#Trithesh Nandan [The author is Sr. Journalist. The views expressed are personal]

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