E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Ajji was reading Praja Vani, once owned by Netkalappa, which was a favourite of Bangaloreans along with P.R. Ramiah’s Tayi Nadu, a long time ago.
She was unusually silent. Normally Ajji slices and dices reputations as well as she does vegetables.
“What happened, Ajji? You are quite different this morning,” I teased her.
“I was reading about the renovation of Niranjan Mutt in Mysore where Swami Vivekananda stayed there once.”
“Yes. He stayed there before he went to Chicago to address the World Congress on Spirituality.”
“It seems he said there, ‘Be not afraid of anything. It is fearlessness that brings Heaven even in a moment’.”
“That’s right, Ajji.”
“Our Prime Minister also has advised the boorokrats.”
“Ajji, adu bureaucrats not boorokrats. What was the advice?”
“Yeno sudugaadu. He has asked them to be fearless in their work.”
“Isn’t that good advice? What’s wrong with it?”
“If you ask somebody not to eat onions, first you must not eat onions yourself. So goes a proverb in Kannada.”
“What have onions got to do with his advice asking them to be fearless?” I demanded.
“Alvo! He himself chickens out on every occasion. He refused to confront A. Raja on 2G spectrum; also Kanimozhi. Didn’t want to sack Suresh Kalmadi on CWG. Wasn’t that lack of guts?”
“You have a point there, Ajji. But he attributed his lack of fearlessness partly to coalition compulsions.”
Ajji took no notice of my interruption. She had compiled a dossier on the PM’s lack of action like our home minister on Hafeez Saeed’s involvement in terrorism.
“Then there was S-band scam in the ministry of space which is directly under him. Then there were the file notings of P. Chidambaram in the 2G scam. The Prime Minister kept quiet in public and in parliament. He chose to answer everything in his customary eloquent silence.”
“What you say is true.”
“He didn’t take Kapil Sibal to task when he declared that the amount of loss to the exchequer from 2G scam was zero, instead of Rs 175,000 crores as calculated by CAG. He should have sacked Sibal if he had worked fearlessly.”
“Rahul Gandhi failed utterly in the UP elections. Why is he not acting fearlessly and sacking him?”
“Looks like he has deliberately forgotten how to act fearlessly,” I intervened.
“It’s not that he doesn’t know how to act fearlessly. During Narasimha Rao’s days as finance minister he took bold steps to liberalize the economy. The economy boomed because of that. He was only a finance minister then, not a Prime Minister.”
“Though he is the Prime Minister now, I think he is taking orders from somebody. That’s why he can’t act fearlessly.”
“Do you think he is taking orders from his wife as all men do?” I asked.
“I wish it were like that. Then at least outside he would have acted fearlessly!”
“Then who is he taking orders from?” I challenged Ajji.
“I think he is hemmed in both at home and from outside. That is why he is helpless. When he is asking the borokrats to ‘act fearlessly’ he is expressing his own wish. He remembers he acted fearlessly once. He wants to be like that again but realizes he can’t; that is why he is advising the borecrats to act fearlessly,” Ajji surmised.