Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
There is nothing personal about it, gentlemen

There is nothing personal about it, gentlemen

Author: S. Gurumurthy
Publication: The New Indian Express
Date: March 19, 2004

Jayalalithaa has charged Sonia on two counts. First, not just on her Italian origin, but, as Jaya pointed out, on Sonia insisting on remaining Italian on the Indian soil for 15 years after she married Rajiv Gandhi. Citing Sonia's extreme reticence to take Indian citizenship for 15 long years, Jaya has attacked that Antonia Maino, that is, Sonia, lacks 'deshbhakti'. Second, on the way Sonia U-turned and gave character certificate to the DMK, suspected by Jain Commission of harbouring the LTTE which extinguished her husband Rajiv Gandhi, for just votes and seats now. Sonia lacks 'pathibhakti' also, charged Jaya. Of course strong charges but it perfectly fits the personality of Jaya.

What Jayalalithaa spoke on the streets of Tamilnadu in different places is actually in print in the AIADMK election manifesto. On some one's complaint that it constitutes personal attack, the media says Election Commission has promised to look into it. Some 'seculars' for whom Sonia still holds out the promise to save the nation from the not-so-secular BJP, also are shedding tears that the election campaign was becoming dirty and personal. The Prime Minister's appeal for dignified campaign is also interpreted to imply that he had the remarks against Sonia in mind.

But is what Jaya spoke about Sonia, or what the AIADMK manifesto says about Sonia, just personal? That Sonia remained an Italian for 15 years after she married into in India and was explicitly shy and reluctant to become an Indian citizen may be a private affair so long as Sonia chose to remain just a private citizen. Even here that she was part of the PM's household would definitely bring it within the domain of public concern. But undoubtedly the moment Sonia decided to step out of her house and join the race for the highest office in the country these questions assume public character. The nation has the right to ask why she was shy and reluctant to become an Indian national. She cannot claim that it is her personal life which no one can pry into. Nor can any one including the Election Commission or the secular media plead it is just her personal affair.

Again, Sonia pulled down the United Front government headed by Inder Gujral explicitly on the ground that it comprised the DMK suspected of connections with LTTE which bombed out her husband Rajiv Gandhi. If her party could finish off a government and impose an election on the country because of the government's LTTE connections via the DMK obviously she was acting out of public concern, not just wreaking vengeance on the DMK as a hurt wife. Now with her need for DMK's alliance, she has U-turned. That the man assassinated, Rajiv Gandhi, was Sonia's husband, may give her the private right to pardon both the DMK and the LTTE. But it does not give her, as the aspiring candidate for the highest office in India, the right to give a public certificate to DMK.

For, the office of the Prime Minister of India is no personal affair. The seeker of such office has to stand all questions about his or her past. Even strictly private issues may at times be publicly scrutinised. Remember Senator Gary Hart who stayed with a woman through a night, but lied he did not, had to quit the race for US Presidency. Had he been just an ordinary American, not aspiring for something big like the US presidency, no one would have asked him even if he had stayed with, not one, but ten of them. Gary Hart could not claim that it was his personal affair. Even in a country like the US with flexible morals, Gary Hart's private behaviour ruined his public career. So even the private lives of people in public life cannot be regarded as purely private should the private life have implicit public concerns. For, seekers of the highest office of the country cannot be equated to fallible private individuals. Where their private life ends and public life begins is not marked precisely.

Obviously, the reluctance of Antonia Maino, a seeker of the highest public office in India, to become Indian citizen for 15 years on the Indian soil raises the issue whether she is a good citizen even if she is a legal citizen. So is whether Sonia who U-turned on the DMK for striking an opportunistic political deal with the party whom the other day she accused of being connected to the assassins of her husband can be entrusted with the high office. So, there is nothing personal about it, gentlemen.

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements