Valson Thampu: ‘Traitors Must Not Be Spared’

Now that the two state elections are over, the Prime Minister would be at ease to mind matters of national importance. The integrity and inviolability of India is a supreme concern for all of us. It is, for sure, likewise with the PM.

So, it is only to be expected that, even without our urging him, he will address the issue reckoned here in an exemplary fashion. But this is just in case he forgets – and forgetfulness is a natural accompaniment of the weariness that hardwired election campaigns excrete.

It is no small matter that a former Prime Minister – especially an old, scrawny, ghostly figure who is too feeble to render himself audible, at times even decipherable – involves himself in conspiracies against the country he himself served as PM for a full decade. The fact that very senior people – Hamid Ansari, the former Vice President, Prem Shankar Jha (one of the most respected journalists of our times), Mani Shankar Aiyar, a former cabinet minister, and a former Chief of Staff, among others – were involved in this episode that sent a chill up the spine of the patriotic electorate of Gujarat, makes it critical and compelling enough to warrant a thorough investigation and severe chastisement. What makes it all the more offensive is that it was held in a brazen-faced, quasi-public sort of way, as though to cock a snook at the authority of the Indian State.

Does any of us think that Pakistan deciding that Ahmed Patel should be the Chief Minister – as a pliable tool in its hands – is a small matter? Many of us believe, privately and otherwise, (I certainly do) that Ahmed Patel should not be in politics at all. But that is our private matter, which cannot abrogate his constitutional right to do as he pleases, so long as he is not a threat to public order and morality. He is a threat to both, without a shred of doubt, if he is colluding with Pakistan. It needs to be dealt with, with the entire might of the State.

Mani Shankar Aiyar

Yes, Mani Shankar Aiyar, an accredited loose cannon, has been involved in back-channel exercises to promote a normal relationship between India and Pakistan. Like a host of others, he has been involved in people-to-people contacts with Pakistan for a very long time. I was aware of this; but I did not know for nearly two decades that he was harbouring sinister, anti-national intentions. No one knew! Smart fellow, this tricky Aiyar!

The Prime Minister is singularly charged with the responsibility to protect the country against serious external interferences in our internal matters. So, unlike others, I believe that Modi has a right to speak about it as and when it comes to his notice. There should be no seasonal restrictions for ferreting out traitors and smelling out overseas rats in our midst, even if it is big guns that are silently booming in anti-national activities, like what is alleged. They affect, according to Modi, the people of Gujarat, backward communities and the poor. (Why Pakistan is hostile to the “backward communities and the poor” is not all that clear to us. Hopefully, this riddle will be de-coded soon enough.)

Given the gravity of the matter, the PM, with the NIA and CBI ready at hand, should have initiated peremptory action the moment it happened. The smartest and fittest members of these agencies should have encircled the venue of conspiracy and taken the high-value culprits into custody. They should have been paraded on the streets of Ahmedabad. It is surprising that he didn’t do this, for all his vigilant, fierce decisiveness. It was an instance that certainly warranted a ‘surgical strike’.  Why the matter was overlooked for a while and was remembered only later, at a convenient point in time, too is a bit intriguing.

At the time the Prime Minister revealed this blood-curdling conspiracy to the people of Gujarat, whose interests were materially threatened by the substance of this revelation, neither they nor the rest of the nation had any means to know if the matter was indeed true, or was a piece of precision-guided fiction aimed at electoral windfalls. Now is the time to establish the truth of is substance.

If Modi fails or forgets to do so, the people of Gujarat can come only to one conclusion: they were taken for a right royal ride.

In that case the following needs to be taken into consideration:

Ironically, Pakistan was the decisive player – through Modi – in the Gujarat elections. That is to say, Modi won Gujarat with the help of Pakistan. (Electorally, there is no difference between Pakistan and the Pakistan bogey). Whether Pakistan is directly complicit in it or not is immaterial. There was no need to invent and unfurl a Pakistan-centric conspiracy against the people of Gujarat, if the outcome of the election could have been swung in one’s favour without that desperate measure.

Prime Minister Modi has paid the greatest, most flattering, compliment to Pakistan that it is the deadliest ammunition in the electoral arsenal of BJP, the foremost party of India. One wonders why the people of Pakistan do not celebrate this! Compliments, more explicit and outlandish than this, cannot be paid to a neighbouring and hostile nation. It is unprecedented in history.

Yes, the people of Pakistan have good reasons to celebrate, but what about the people of Gujarat. What about Gujarati asmita, in case the PM doesn’t follow up on his allegations and bring the culprits to book?

Would they really feel nice that they have been led by the nose with a piece of willful fraudulence? Is it all right with them that the bogey of Pakistan – if indeed it is so, how do I know? – is used to arm-twist them into pressing a different button?

And for the rest of us, who comprise Modi’s “sava sau crore Bharatwasis (125 crore Indians)”, where are we headed? The office of the Prime Minister is common to all of us and we hold it in high esteem. Cheapening its dignity is a matter of pain and disappointment for all Indians.

One word, in conclusion, about Manmohan Singh. I happen to know him by proxy. His son-in-law was my colleague for nearly four decades and his daughter was my student. I can vouch for something, with my hand on my heart. When Manmohan Singh was the PM, his son-in-law was under strict instruction not to entertain any favour seekers. He took his fierce sense of respect for the Office of the Prime Minister to an extreme extent. He made it clear to his son-in-law – going by what he confided in me – that he would be dear and cherished at home, but not welcome in the PMO. It is a bit difficult for me to believe that such a venerable old man can be, in the westering evening of his life, a surreptitious conspirator against the country he served lifelong with devotion and distinction.

But, who am I, or you, to rule out anything? We are no one to pre-judge a matter as serious as this. We cannot help loving and trusting our PM, till he proves himself untrustworthy. So, we wait, with bated breath, for the truth to be revealed with unsparing fierceness.  We insist that the guilty be punished. We demand that the integrity of the nation be protected with flaming earnestness and uncompromising decisiveness. Satyameva Jayate!

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