Monday, June 30, 2008

Home and away games/Power&Politics/Mail Today-June 30,2008

Never in Independent India has a government been so fragile and so susceptible to pressures that even foreign policy, an area in which all previous governments operated on across- party consensus, becomes avictim of domestic politics. On June 20, the National Security Adviser MK Narayanan, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and Defence Secretary Vijay Singh were in Colombo. Since the newspapers maintained a mysterious silence on the matter, it can safely be assumed it was asecret mission. Ichecked around and was told that they had gone to oversee security arrangements for the forthcoming SAARC summit. That’s laughable, since Ithink the SPG is more equipped to do the job. Aspecial aircraft took them from Delhi to Colombo where they met Tamil politicians like RSampanthan among others. On Saturday morning, they held long discussions with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Sri Lanka's Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and chiefs of the three services at the Temple Trees (President's home- office). The Indian team is understood to have told the President that apolitical solution –within the framework of a united Sri Lanka –was necessary to the Tamil problem. The Indian officials also stressed the Sri Lankan military campaign could not be the only option. With the Army closing in, the LTTE, many of whose leaders have been killed in recent times, is with its back to the wall. In the late 1980s, it was Narayanan, then IB director, who was Rajiv Gandhi’s main interlocutor with the LTTE. But that’s another story. Back to the present. Enter M Karunanidhi, the LTTE’s biggest benefactor whose wish is the UPA leadership’s command. He couldn’t bear to see his boys getting slaughtered by the Sri Lankan forces. And so the whirlwind tour by Narayanan and gang. Next, the Communists who want to debate everything but never want to tell the truth about anything, decide how much India should cosy up to the US. If it’s Pakistan, it’s the Wagah border Candle Light Brigade. Of late, Indo- Nepal ties hinge on the whims of an apparatchik in Gole Market. Despite heading one of the weakest governments that it has been India’s misfortune to have, Manmohan Singh sought his place in history via the Indo- US nuke deal. Having taken the first step, he should have done his best to take it to its logical conclusion by enlisting all round support. Instead, he sat back in the madcap hope that industrialists and other lobbyists would take care of the rest. The results are there to see. No tears will be shed if this government is turfed out sooner than due. But it is the damage done to the foreign policy establishment that is cause for concern. During the last Congress government at the Centre, PV Narasimha Rao personally chose the then leader of Opposition and his close friend Atal Bihari Vajpayee to head Indian delegations to the UN in New York and the Human Rights Commission in Geneva. It was the most eloquent way to tell the world that when it comes to national interest, India is united.

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