Adlai Ewing Stevenson (1835-1914), the 23rd vice president of the United States, defined the hypocrite as the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump, and make a speech for conservation. There are many in Indian politics who would fit the bill, but nobody fits better than senior Congress leader and former finance minister P. Chidambaram. His recent potshot at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s anti-satellite missile announcement proves the point the nth time.
In a tweet, Chidambaram said that while the capability to shoot a satellite had existed in the country for many years, “a wise government will keep the capability secret. Only a foolish government will disclose it and betray a defence secret.”
But if the government was foolish in announcing the anti-satellite missile test, was it not wise in keeping certain parts of the Rafale deal secret by the same token? And if it is wisely keeping some aspects of the deal under wraps, why are you slamming it day in, day out?
As India became the fourth nation after the US, China, and Russia to acquire the anti-satellite missile prowess to shoot down a satellite, the Prime Minister utilized the occasion to special address the nation. The Opposition objected to the timing of the announcement. It argued that Modi should not have done that just a couple of weeks before the first phase of the general election. Chidambaram echoed similar sentiments in another tweet, “Why was it done now in the middle of an election campaign? Only to boost the sagging fortunes of the BJP.”
It’s true that Modi and the BJP have been trying to bask in the glory of Defence Research & Development Organization scientists. But neither Chidambaram’s nor his party’s conduct in the not-so-distant past has been above board. It was the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance that, with an eye on the 2009 general election, had waived off farm loans to the tune of Rs 70,000 crore in 2008. Of course, there was no violation of the Model Code of Conduct, but the action was against the spirit of democracy and fiscal prudence. Chidambaram held the finance portfolio at that time.
What he did as home minister was violated the letter and spirit of not just democracy but also of justice and national security. While the entire world, including the US, had accepted that the Samjhauta Express blasts were carried out by Pakistan-based jihadist groups, he conjured up the ‘Hindu terror’ threat to further his party’s agenda. He sacrificed the national interest at the altar of partisan considerations.
And now he has the cheek to wax eloquent about folly and wisdom in politics!