Independence Day has occasioned two insightful comments in today's papers. The Hindu carries Mr.Harish Khare's Manmohan's Task while the Indian Express carries an edit on A Pilot for Patil. Both trace the roots of the present crisis in J&K to the MHA. Mr.Khare makes the point the PM left J&K entirely to his Home Minister. I carefully read both, to know the basis of their claim. I am neither a supporter nor a critic of Mr.Shivraj Patil. But I am in search of truth.
Mr.Khare's article starts with the decision to opt for a Congress chief minister, following Mufti Mohammed Sayeed's completion of his tenure as per the PDP-Congress agreement. Mr.Khare feels the decision was flawed. May be. But is Mr.Patil responsible for this? Mr.Khare himself attributes this to AICC brass and the security establihment in New Delhi. Second, he blames the PM for not anticipating what Gen.S.K.Sinha was upto, but shifts the responsibility to MHA.
As readers, we don't know what are the inadequacies of MHA in dealing with issues of internal security, which apparently are widely recognised. It is said that Gen.Sinha as Governor pursued a blatantly partisan agenda. Perhaps true. But as readers, we would like to know the basis of the claim that Ms.Gandhi has inexplicable faith in Mr.Patil. Is this the root cause of the J&K crisis then? It seems to be a bizarre suggestion to trace the root cause of the crisis to the personal predilections of a leader outside the Government.
Had Mr.Patil challenged the bogey of land grab in time, and cut short Gen.Sinha's term, before he took controversial decisions on the land transfer,would we have been spared of this agony? Well, the HT today asks similar questions on many episodes in history, but we cannot have any definite answers whether Mr.Patil would have then emerged as the hero of the media.
The IE edit makes the similar point without elaborating why Mr.Patil is a failure, or any other person in his place would have been a success.
The issue probably is the collective responsibility of the council of ministers. Individual Ministers do have their respective areas to concentrate and look after and the PM is not expected to interfere in their day-to-day functioning, and in their over-all leadership of their ministries. But if individual Ministers do fail to deliver, does the PM have any objective yardstick to measure their performance? Or does he have to depend only on the particular Minister's skills in projecting himself in the media?