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Ram Jethmalani is a senior politician and eminent lawyer.

Voters must choose carefully

The corrupt UPA government, presiding over the Delhi zoo, has prospered beyond imagination.

he month gone by has been turbulent for the nation. For me too, it was no better. I went to Chennai to attend the wedding of a dear friend's daughter. At a five star hotel in the city I tripped over a slippery floor and sustained a bloody gash on my head. I did not call a doctor and quietly went to bed after wiping off the blood from the floor and stopping any further flow from the injury. I slept well, but in the morning the sight of my skull compelled calling a doctor who took me to the hospital for a scan and clean-up. I was released within an hour and took a flight to Mumbai, but a friendly press and television channel almost created an impression of a near fatal injury. This may have gladdened the hearts of my detractors, but it did cause concern to my friends.

Let me assure everybody, my well wishers and others, that I am perfectly all right, without even a scar left by the wound on my not very well endowed skull. And I am back as before, trying with the best of my ability, to restore some order in the zoo, which our political leaders have created from our democracy. Aristotle had told us long ago, "Man is a political animal." How right he was, in ways he could never have imagined. I am sure almost everyone will agree that today's political man is the most bestial of the herd. Thanks to Arvind Kejriwal and his motley gangs, Indian politics is becoming even more saturated with uncivilised snarling beasts, who desecrate everything we hold dear.

It is a supreme tragedy that instead of patriots and intellectuals steering our democratic republic, which has a great Constitution, it is these unruly creatures that run wild through our streets, across television screens and inside hallowed halls of government and legislatures. Darwin's evolution seems to be racing in reverse gear, and the question every nationalist citizen is asking is how much worse can it get. The corrupt UPA government, presiding over the Delhi zoo, has prospered beyond imagination. It hopes that its scandals, scams and larcenies will be concealed by the ubiquitous chaos it has created, and that the token expressions of its spurious socialism and even more spurious secularism, will again tranquilise the nation into tolerating them. I do not believe that the voters are such morons.

It is a supreme tragedy that instead of patriots and intellectuals steering our democratic republic, which has a great Constitution, it is these unruly creatures that run wild through our streets, across television screens and inside hallowed halls of government and legislatures.

The election schedule has been announced, and the voters will decide the destiny of the nation between 7 April and 16 May. Voters are despondent that integrity and national interest are no longer political priorities of the average Indian politician. Yet, I urge them, they must choose carefully after an unbiased scrutiny of the candidate's balance sheet and more importantly of the party to which he/she belongs. The latter is much more decisive.

Let the voter impartially study the record of the Congress and its Prime Ministers, who for 37 years directly belonged to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, and 47 years, if one takes into account the proxy Prime Ministership of Sonia Gandhi. I am mentioning just a few huge irreversible, unrectifiable debits in their balance sheet, which to this day continue to haunt the nation, far outweighing their credits.

Let me begin with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and his disastrous foreign policy with China, the military and financial, effects of which continue to wreck us even today. Instead of maturely sorting out the nebulous border dispute issues with China, Nehru allowed Zhou Enlai, the first Premier of China, to completely mislead him through flattery that he would be the undisputed leader of the emerging non-aligned countries. This alienated us from world democracies and made India friendless in the comity of nations.

What is unpardonable is that Nehru, in those years of state controlled media, chose to deceive the nation for years, concealing from it facts regarding Chinese claims over large chunks of Bharat Mata's territory. And then, succumbing to the delusion of his invincibility, he most irresponsibly ordered the ill equipped Indian Army to throw out the Chinese army, without even bothering to ascertain whether they had adequate armour, clothes and even boots.

Our defeat by the Chinese in the border war of 1962 is one of the most ignominious military defeats that India has suffered in its long history. The non-aligned movement on which Nehru had staked so much, proved a disaster, providing no support from any non-aligned country. The only two countries that came to our support were the United States and Israel. Nehru saw his mirages in shambles, and died a broken hearted man.

But the permanent damage done to India and its economy has been irreparable. The face of the budget changed, taxes and prices soared in 1963, and scarce resources had now to be invested in arming the 4,056 km Line of Actual Control, traversing through Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal, Uttarakhand and Sikkim. With an already hostile Pakistan border, Nehru's failed China policy also ensured a hostile eastern border, another sizeable burden on our defence systems and the tax payer. And so it continues till today, bleeding our financial and human resources that could have been used over the past six decades for national development.

Kashmir is another ulcer created by Pandit Nehru that continues to fester until today, draining our resources. It has caused two wars with Pakistan, and the Line of Control today is the highway of terrorism against India, taking a high toll of human life. It is inexplicable why Nehru agreed to a ceasefire in Kashmir, and took the matter to the UN, when Indian forces had almost retaken the whole of Kashmir from Pakistan sponsored raiders. I leave the readers to judge whether this action of Nehru was in the national interest of India, whether it was the result of powerful influences from the British establishment, or an idealism regarding which he had no understanding of the power relations and lack of integrity that bedevils international justice.

Democrat extraordinaire that he is labelled as, he was not able to temper his dictatorial tendencies, with the enormous majority that the Congress party commanded in Parliament. He sowed the seeds of vote bank politics and vitiated sensible foreign policy by preventing Israel from setting up an embassy in Delhi, even though we had granted de jure and de facto recognition to it. Adding greater disaster to our foreign policy, Nehru decided to fully support communist China to become a permanent member of the Security Council, ensuring that India would forever remain unprotected against the Chinese veto. The betrayal of Tibet and Tibetans leading to Dalai Lama's exile and annexation of independent Tibet by China took Nehru's foreign policy to its ultimate nadir of immorality.

Nehru's economic policy completely suppressed private initiative, which the country had to turn to in sheer economic desperation after 50 years of independence. Placing government and its bureaucrats at the commanding heights of the Indian economy heralded the notorious licence permit raj that paved the way for gigantic corruption and economic decline. As decades went by, this corruption dug deeper, multiplied and proliferated to all segments of not only our government and economy but also into society, something we are forced to live with today. If there was anyone who showed any political will to combat corruption, it was Nehru's successor, the great Lal Bahadur Shastri, doubtless the best Prime Minister India ever had in its political history.

Nehruvian economics flourished; but poverty continues to grow and the GDP continued to fall. It reached what unfairly was called the Hindu rate of growth, because people were too polite to call it the Nehru rate of growth. India has still not been able to recover from the hangover of Nehru's economic, military and foreign policy blunders.

(To be continued)

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