Hazare arrest fiasco: Just who is calling the shots at the Centre?

Francois Gautier | Wednesday, August 17, 2011 
The first prerequisite of a good journalist is to be inquisitive. And indeed, the Indian media can be very inquisitive, as investigations into the recent scams by Times Now or Tehelka have shown.
Yet, when it comes to Sonia Gandhi, there is a conspiracy of silence. Firstly, no newspaper or television channel ever mentions the fact that she probably has cervical cancer, and you have to go online to foreign publications to learn it.
Now, Mrs Gandhi is the most powerful person in India, a super prime minister, over the existing PM and as such her bill of health is a matter of public scrutiny, as it would be for Barack Obama or Angela Merkel.
Secondly, the most basic questions that any journalist worth his/her salt should inquire into are not asked:
Is she still running the government by proxy from the US? Knowing how the Congress works, Anna Hazare’s arrest had to be taken at the highest level, like it was the case with the midnight crackdown on Baba Ramdev. Either Ahmed Patel (Gandhi’s political advisor) called her directly, or Rahul Gandhi was the intermediary.
There are other questions too:
Where did she have treatment for the past eight months?
How did she manage this time — and many times before — to get out of her 10, Janpath residence and the country without anybody taking notice, given the amount of security and media scrutiny around her?
Does she travel abroad in a scheduled flight or on a chartered plane?
Who pays for her travels and her medical expenses?
Why go to the US for surgery? India has some of the best doctors in the world and westerners come here nowadays for major surgeries, as hospitals in Delhi, Mumbai or Chennai are as good as — and cheaper than — those in Europe or the US.
The argument of privacy and not wanting to disturb other patients does not stand. Security is so tight around her in India that nobody can get through, whereas in the US, she will be only allowed minimal security and journalists will be able to get much closer.
Critics might say: ‘We respect her privacy and her pain.’ Yes, but when it comes to Narendra Modi, BS Yeddyurappa or LK Advani, the press shows no such restraint and even goes overboard in scrutinising them.
The tragedy of India is that, unlike China, it was colonised for too long and it is left behind with a legacy of over-admiration — if not of submissiveness — for the white man and woman, which takes the politically correct shape of democratic acceptance of the ‘other’, or of protecting his or her ‘privacy’. That is fine, but not in the case of public figures.
Nobody also says aloud that only a small percentage of the money gotten through scams goes into the pockets of politicians involved, the major part is for the parties’ coffers and is used to fight the enormous costs of Indian elections, where one actually tries to buy voters, or even purchase MPs, as was done during the 2008 vote of confidence over the Indo-US nuclear deal.
And the Congress is the party that has institutionalised this cancerous practice that is eating the entrails of this great nation, as much as cervical cancer is eating into Mrs Gandhi’s body, because everybody has to follow the system, if he or she wants to be elected and stay in power.
The media accuses A Raja, Suresh Kalmadi, Sheila Dikshit and others, but nobody points a finger at Mrs Gandhi. Yet it is only natural that Mrs Gandhi should take responsibility as she controls the party and wields immense power disproportionate to her post.


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