BARRING Chidambaram’s move to North Block, the government is yet to send out any signal that internal security is a top drawer subject. On the contrary, the appointment of Raman Srivastava, former DGP of Kerala as special secretary, internal security, raises serious questions about the government’s commitment to put its money where the mouth is as far as internal security is concerned. As an IGP in Kerala, Srivastava had the dubious honour of being questioned by his juniors in the crime branch of the Kerala Police, by the CBI, and was placed under suspension for his controversial role in the infamous ISRO spy case in the mid- 1990s. This, despite the best efforts of his then benefactor K. Karunakaran, the state chief minister. He subsequently approached the Central Administrative Tribunal on the basis of whose order, he was reinstated but was not given a police posting.
Instead he was posted as security officer in a central public sector undertaking before donning khakis again as IGP, Armed Battalions and Traffic! Originally from Uttar Pradesh, the 1973 batch Kerala cadre IPS officer is a Mallu for all practical purposes. And with so many high and mighty Keralites strutting around South Block, is it any wonder that this adopted Mallu has made it to the crucial job of special secretary despite his less- than credible career sheet. It is to be hoped that he manages internal security somewhat better than he did the traffic management on the crowded roads of Thiruvanthapuram.
Your safety is in unsafe hands
IS IT an admission of the shortage of talent in the government that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could find none other than P Chidambaram to fill the vacancy created by the sacking of Shivraj Patil as home minister? By his own admission, PC was a reluctant transferee to North Block. But it is a measure of the government’s warped sense of priorities that it thinks there is nothing amiss in carrying on without a full- time finance minister when the country is heading for an economic downturn. This is not to belittle the challenges on the security front or suggest that PC is the wrong man for the job.
On the contrary, there is nobody more equipped than him to deliver on an issue that is top of the mind for all Indians. But his is a tough job, made tougher by the fact that he is saddled with the same set of people who, as has now been proved beyond doubt, are simply not unto the job. There were inspired leaks that M. K. Narayanan, the national security advisor had offered to quit.
If indeed he had, why wasn’t it accepted forthwith considering the advice he gave amounted to nothing. The home secretary still reports for work as do the IB director, R& AW chief, etc. The IB Director’s singular achievement so far has been keeping MPs under surveillance during the infamous trust vote in July to ensure the UPA victory. Narayanan’s indispensability may have something to do with the fact that he knows too much. These uncomfortable facts are not state secrets. Even the killers who arrived by slow boat from Karachi knew it. That’s why they could strike at will. And so easily.
All’s not well that ends well
FORGIVING and forgetting doesn’t come naturally to anyone who has been through the long, hard grind of Tamil Nadu politics and nobody knows this more than Muthuvel Karunanidhi, the Tamil Nadu chief minister. There is thus intense speculation over the carefully choreographed photo- ops whose intent seems to be to convey the message that all’s well that ends well. Kalanidhi and Dayanidhi Maran are grandnephews of the DMK patriarch. The former runs a hugely successful media house whose flagship is SUN TV, South India’s largest TV network. while the latter, until mid last year, was the suave Union minister for communications. Things went wrong when in May 2007, the group conducted an opinion poll about Karunanidhi’s successor. The result enraged Karunanidhi who saw it as an attempt to drive a wedge between his highly ambitious offspring, all intensely political.
Dayanidhi was given the boot. The bitterness was so intense that, it was thought, the twain shall never meet. But there is a settlement in place and I understand it has as much to do with business as politics. Though it was the Marans who ran the media house, it is widely known that SUN TV couldn’t have reached the dizzying heights without help from the DMK, which along with Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK could teach parties like the BJP and the CPI( M) a few lessons about cadre bashing. The settlement also includes a political accord engineered by M. K. Stalin, Karunanidhi’s politically less- gifted son who saw in the Marans a threat to his own ambitions. He is now supping with them, glad to see the fledgling career of his half- sister M. Kanimozhi clipped. Karunanidhi must have been through torment since the extremely talented Kanimozhi is said to be his favourite. In a final gesture, he took Kanimozhi and her mother, his second wife, to visit Sonia Gandhi when he last visited Delhi. But at the end, victory belonged to the boys. Stalin will be the DMK’s face in Tamil Nadu, the suave Dayanidhi in Delhi.
THANKS TO the antics of chief minister V. S. Achutanandan outside the Bangalore residence of Sandeep Unnikrishnan, the Army Major who lost his life fighting terrorists in the Taj Hotel, chain mails and SMSes are doing the rounds suggesting God’s Own Country should now be called Dog’s Own Country. Yet our netas in Delhi would do well to imbibe a few lessons in bipartisanship from the political class in Kerala.
Last week, when nine children, were mowed down by a speeding minivan in Kannur, several state ministers and Opposition leaders landed up to commiserate and attend the funeral.
Last week, I wrote about the significance a Manmohan- Advani joint visit to Mumbai would have had. The visit never happened. Little gestures like this would have gone a long way in redeeming the image of the political class, which has hit rock bottom.