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The lamb roars in Parliament

Published Mar 11, 2013 08:22am


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Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is usually calm, rarely speaks about himself and is content to be seen as a team player. His critics, and there are many, believe he is “controlled” by Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

But speaking in Parliament on March 6, it was a different Singh in action. The reticence was gone and he wasn’t afraid to take on the opposition party in pretty strong political language.

Apparently stung by the language used at a Bharatiya Janata Party gathering, where Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi described the Congress as “dheemak, the Prime Minister gave it back to the party-waiting-for-power.

After defending the growth record of the country under the United Progressive Alliance, Singh said:

A few days ago, [at] a conclave of the National Council of BJP assembled in Delhi, used the choicest abuses for the Congress establishment and Congress leadership including myself. It is not my intention to reply them in that language because I do believe that our work and our performance are the best judges of what we have achieved.  

And then came the prediction, seen as unusual from the mild-mannered Prime Minister:

We have seen this arrogance not for the first time. The Shining India campaign in 2004 led to disastrous results for the BJP. In 2009, they fielded the iron man Advani ji against the lamb that Manmohan Singh is, and we all know as to what was the result. I am convinced that if the people of India were to look at our record in these nine or 10 years, they would repeat what they did in 2004 and 2009.

So, Manmohan Singh was being quite simple: that he “the lamb” took on the “iron man” of the BJP in 2009 and returned to office as Prime Minister. And, he predicted a hat-trick for the Congress-led coalition in 2014.

And, time and again, both in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, the Prime Minister reeled off statistics to show that his government’s record in 2004-2013 was far superior to that of the BJP-led coalition from 1998-2004.

The record, he said, spoke for itself.

Whatever be the “successes” of the government, the fact remains that it’s been ridden with allegations of corruption from almost day one since it took office again in 2009.

The 2G scam, the loot of funds to stage the Commonwealth games in Delhi, party bigwigs scrambling to get themselves flats in the Adarsh society in Mumbai, the coal allotments scam, kickbacks in helicopter deals ... there’s a lot the Manmohan Singh government has to answer for.

The furore over women’s safety after the December 16 rape-and-murder in Delhi and the secret hanging of Afzal Guru, convicted for staging the attack on India’s parliament in 2001, without informing his family, are blots on the government’s record.

Public spending on welfare projects (much of it is pilfered in any case) is not going to present a humane face of the State to the people – its actual actions that lead to the building of a caring government.

Manmohan Singh and his ministers have a lot do if their government is to aim for a caring image.

Many of the instruments the State works with are of a colonial heritage, but there is little imagination and momentum in the government to be able to construct alternatives.

However, the BJP’s record is no better. Karnataka, the only state in southern India where the party is in power, has seen rampant corruption, with the mining mafia ruling the roost. There’s been a split in the party, whose government stands discredited.

The BJP, which has attempted to become the sole spokesman for the Hindu religion, and aggressively demonised India’s Muslims, came to power in 1998 under a “moderate” leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who kept a disparate coalition government going.

Today, the party is signalling a return to the imagery of the 1980s and 1990s, when the Babri Masjid was demolished in Ayodhya by hordes mobilised under the leadership of one of its most senior leaders, “the iron man” L.K. Advani.

If Manmohan Singh and the Congress are battling to retain the “moderate centre”, the BJP under its undeclared Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, can be expected to do battle for the formation of a hard-line, anti-minority, police state that would make India “strong”.

The battle-lines for 2014 are being drawn.

One can only wonder where the real needs and priorities will fit into this political joust.


Amit Baruah is an independent, Delhi-based journalist. He is the author of Dateline Islamabad and reported for The Hindu newspaper from Pakistan.


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


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Amit Baruah is an independent, Delhi-based journalist. He is the author of Dateline Islamabad and reported for The Hindu newspaper from Pakistan. He tweets @abaruah64.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (37) Closed

Truly Mar 11, 2013 08:45am
Mr. Baruah, maybe its because you are writing for a Pakistani newspaper that you are so one-dimensional about the BJP & Modi, but really you should attempt to analyse the above-mentioned entities more so because you are writing for a prejudiced audience.
Tahir Mar 11, 2013 12:26pm
BNA, domestic consumption or international cuisine, don't be too sentimental and offended about nationalistic feelings. It's only a blog at that. Have you read some bombastically written articles of late appearing in Dawn by writers like Mobarak Haider which raised only "wah wah's" from no other than the Indian readers. Live life to your full but equitably, matey.
Naman Mar 11, 2013 08:40am
" Narendra Modi, can be expected to do battle for the formation of a hard-line, anti-minority, police state that would make India
Ahmed Sultan (India) Mar 12, 2013 04:33am
Man.. The person who brain washed you, did an amazing job
DT Mar 12, 2013 05:28am
India needs Am Admi Party to win the election, Mr Modi as Prime Minister, Dr Singh as Head of Finance, Mr Chidambaram as Home Minister and Mr Chandrababu Naidu as S&Tech.
abbastoronto Mar 11, 2013 04:43pm
As Eqbal Ahmed once put it, strong men make weak nations.
abbastoronto Mar 11, 2013 04:41pm
Religions are tied to economy. Hinduism is an agrarian religion, while Islam, of city origin (Mecca) is tied to trade. In the coming era of urbanization, globalization and Free Trade, return to religion will mean different things to Hindus and to Muslims in India. It will take Hindus further and further from reality, while it will make Muslims more and more like fish in water. Interesting times lie ahead.
Rao Mar 11, 2013 12:17pm
Amit Baruah isn't a even handed journalist....
Nair Mar 12, 2013 05:18am
Depends on who is the average Indian you are talking about, the Madrassahh educated semi literate who always cries fowl for being sidelined?
HM, Canada Mar 11, 2013 03:06pm
Lamb is a lamb can never become a tiger. Yes it can become black sheep with time. Which he has become...
paatchu Mar 11, 2013 05:44pm
And Don't forget that Mr.ManMohan Singh - is the only prime minister in the history of indian politics who never won an election with the vote of the people. He contested twice in LokSabha.both time he failed. He is only a Rajya sabha MP - means he's just nominated not with the vote of the people.
Bakul Mar 12, 2013 12:50am
What type of Chrystal Ball are you using?
Ali Mar 11, 2013 02:21pm
The author seems to not reading the people sentiment and mentioned "The furore over women
D - type Mar 11, 2013 01:42pm
Religious based nationalistic vision of BJP may make them look like Lion, but average Indian likes to trust a Lamb more than a wanna be Lion. Democracy gives them the right to roar like lion, which also gives us the right to vote for a lamb.
Agha Ata (USA) Mar 11, 2013 02:08pm
. No lamb remains a lamb for ever. I think the lamb is grown into a RAM
Ali Mar 11, 2013 11:21pm
Have you ever been to California? By the way who put Gujarat second, can you enlightened us?
Parvez Mar 11, 2013 06:29pm
Dr Anand your comment does more harm to India's image than Mr Baruah's blog.
abhi Mar 11, 2013 01:13pm
Only lacky of congress will give any credence to what MMS spoke. We are tired of his dramatic agression which only happens when he is personally attacked. He is very cool otherwise even when the big scams come in to picture and he speaks nothing to take any responsibilities for them
shabashtoronto Mar 11, 2013 06:36pm
Prior to the arrival of Guru Tegh Bahadur the hill country around what would become Anandpur was made up of kingdoms ruled predominately by Hindus, where the Brahmanic brand of caste distinction was rigidly observed. Fellow human beings within the same religion worked each in his own sphere of carefully delineated castes each with its own duties. The Hindu kingdoms were subjugated to the Mughal rulers who were at every chance attempting to win converts to Islam, particularly from the lower castes. However, in the kingdom ruled by the Sikhs slowly and steadily this mood of agitation changed with the introduction of a recognition of the unity of man. It is only now that we can see how the Guru and the Sikhs had to fight with dedication to change the ingrained and unfair systems of discrimination and prejudice within each religious group and within the different religious communities. The Guru succeeded in creating a caste-less society where both men and women were seen as equals; one where all human beings' rights were considered equal. The following famous shabad by the tenth Guru highlights one of the central tenets of the Sikh faith: Some are Hindus and others are Muslims; someone is raafjee (follower of Ali); others are Imam-Shafi (adherents of the Prophet); Recognize the whole of human race as one.
munaf Mar 11, 2013 09:32pm
It is time to do house cleaning in India by getting rid of Manipulative Congress led UPA government. Amit Bharuah's article when read carefully shows his sympathy towards Congress and Singh. I wish that the Indian journalist are honest enough to come out and say what they really mean
mama ji Mar 11, 2013 01:55pm
Modi deserve to be next PM....look where is gujrat now just second after california state in world list. congress "Deemak" bye bye
PN Mar 11, 2013 08:51pm
Sir, did you say democracy, or u meant mobocracy? Can you name one democratic nation where there are separate civil laws for different communities, where each citizen is equal? Can a Hindu in the so-called democratic nation marry more than one wife? or divorce by uttering talaq 3 times,etc . Have you ever heard of a democracy where you have Hindu Code Bill and Muslim Personal Laws? Before using the word 'democracy' so liberally, think first and then comment. Thanks.
PN Mar 11, 2013 08:40pm
But the lamb can pretend to be a lion when somebody else is holding its lease! No!
PN Mar 11, 2013 08:38pm
Muslims have been voting for the Congress from day one, look how far it has taken them! They have been betrayed and fooled by the pseudo-secularists who in reality ask to be voted in the name of communalism. The young Muslims have realized this sham going on for years for what it really is about and have started calling the bluff. All the sympathy for the so-called minority comes suddenly on the surface at the election time .and as suddenly evaporates post-election. So much for the secular, corrupt, dynastic-ridden, parivar-pujari congress. BTW, did you see the big Italian combination of the Italian parivar, Quotrochi & now the two-faced -going-back-on own-words Italian Govt?
Guru Mar 11, 2013 11:51am
He has been called a Night Watchman, later on, by Modi. If you leave out the characters in the play & just focus on the message, you cannot dispute it. MMS is just warming the seats for the Gandhi family.
Usman Chaudhry Mar 11, 2013 01:37pm
Much over stated i believe. Since Congress led NDA is facing corruption charges and anti-Sonia sentiments, there is equally fair amount of chance that Congress might loose next elections. Thus paving way for BJP and Narender Modi to be next prime minister of India.
skeptic Mar 11, 2013 07:18pm
well the Indian Muslims are not from Mecca they are from India.
Parvez Mar 11, 2013 11:19am
A nice balanced write up. Looking at the political scene as an outsider the one thing that stands out is that the democratic voting system works so that the voice of the people is that's a major plus point.
Khanm Mar 11, 2013 11:23am
The lamb roars in Parliament. Atleast it roars. What are we doing in our parliment, sitting lame ducks. The greatness of a writer is not to find what is common but what is unique.
(Dr.) B.N. Anand Mar 11, 2013 11:32am
Amit, lambs never roar even when they wear the skin of a tiger. The lamb remains a lamb, so it is wrong on your part to give this expression to a lamb, by his own admission. This is all for domestic consumption, especially when polls are round the corner. Whatever the lamb or the so called tiger says, it is wrong on your part to be making an issue of this in a foreign newspaper. BNA
abdul narayan d'souza Mar 11, 2013 02:39pm
We are grown up as a nation and can discuss our issues as mature people even in a foreign newspaper.This shows our calibre.
rahul pathak Mar 11, 2013 02:48pm
Mr Manmohan Singh is most educated person we had on PM post.....yet we had most corrupt gov in indian history under his leadership.....anyway why Mr Amit Baruah personal dislike for BJP is affecting his job...? as we are seeing here in this one sided article...
Saurabh Mar 11, 2013 03:28pm
Congress will come back with a big majority. People of India know it is a corrupt but secular party. On the other hand, BJP is not only as corrupt as Congress but also communal and divisive Indians prefer a party that can ensure peace even if it is corrupt. All Indian Muslims will vote for Congress because they want to keep BJP, which is projecting Modi as PM, out of power. Congress will also get its own vote bank as well as votes of secular Indians.
gita Mar 11, 2013 03:29pm
The BJP is a party which has become irrelevant in modern India. The average agae of the electorate now shows the impact of the young voter, who cares more about economic growth than the Ram Temple. Young Muslims have increasingly started to clamour to become part of the main stream and hence divisive politics has no place. for all his faults, Dr. Singh has behaved impeccably in not falling for the cheap baits of the BJP. His commitment for the betterment of the Indian Economy requires no certificates from the BJP. The Congress has made huge mistakes, but the worst of the Congress is vastly better than the BJP
Devil Mar 12, 2013 10:46am
Ignorance is a bliss !!
Devil Mar 12, 2013 10:47am
Dream on !!
SHRi Mar 12, 2013 01:42pm
you are amazing. Don't know where do gather such kind of information. Study properly about ancient India.