By K Raveendran
It was the ultimate comedy of errors that when information minister Ashwini Vaishnaw was defending the government in the Pegasus snooping case, media units were preparing to release a list of targeted persons, who curiously included himself. It can be safely assumed that Vaishnaw has lost his credibility for ever and will never be retrieved.
“A highly sensational story was published by a web portal last night. Many over-the-top allegations made around this story,” Vaishnaw said. “The press reports appeared a day before the monsoon session of Parliament. This can’t be a coincidence.”
“In the past, similar claims were made regarding the use of Pegasus… Those claims had no factual basis and were categorically denied by all parties,” he added.
But Vaishnaw could have been a lot smarter than he actually was or appeared to be. He missed a golden opportunity to establish that the spy operation was nonpartisan and even handed as the targets included the members of Modi’s cabinet themselves. Instead of arguing that the government, or whoever the government is trying to project as the elements behind the ‘conspiracy’, had no mala fide intent, he ended up defending a lost cause as the facts of the case appeared to be in complete conflict with whatever he was attempting to claim.
Vaishnaw lost even a bigger opportunity to establish that snooping was not a hostile act and those who were subjected to the operation were actually beneficiaries rather than victims. He could have cited his own case. He was being spied on using his phone transactions, like many others, but Pegasus came as a harbinger of good fortune for him. It is not clear whether it was his unflinching loyalty to Modi that fetched him a ministerial berth. But he could have certainly shown that to be so and in one stroke taken the wind out of the opposition sails.
It is common knowledge that under the Modi dispensation, anything can be made out into anything else, just as any act can be interpreted into an anti-national act and booked under the hated sedition law. There was a classic display of the phenomenon by the prime minister in the Lok Sabha this week when the opposition persisted with the ruckus as Modi was about to introduce the new ministers. The opposition was protesting about the government’s failure in effectively dealing with Covid second wave, fuel prices, farmers protest and a host of other issues, but Modi turned it around as the height of ‘negative mindset’ and the opposition’s inability to share the joy over the inclusion of several women and many people belonging to SC-ST community as ministers.
“It is a matter of pride that people from rural India, who come from ordinary families have taken oath as ministers. But some people don’t want ministers to be introduced. They also have an anti-women mindset since they do not want women ministers to be introduced to the House,” he said.
But the prime minister seemed to have glossed over the other angle of the argument. If one has to feel proud about the inclusion of women and the sons of the poor people of rural India into the ministry, their absence so far should have evoked despair all this while. After all, despair and joy are the two sides of the same coin.
True to the character of the Modi dispensation, parliament also saw the highest form of spirituality being invoked by the government to couch one of its most mundane failures. It may sound unbelievable, but the government actually claimed in a written answer that there were no deaths in the country due to lack of oxygen during the second wave of the Covid pandemic. The government should at least have shown some sensitivity to the near and dear ones of those who died unable to take a last breath of oxygen on the roads and outside hospitals.
But the government attributes the death to Covid. In a way, it is right. But for Covid, the oxygen levels in the victims’ bodies would not have come down to such level that their organs could no longer function. One should feel grateful that the government did not claim that such deaths were ordained by God himself and therefore one has to bear with the tragedy. Like Swami Vivekananda said, not a leaf turns without God’s will. And citing Vivekananda, one of India’s greatest minds for ever, can never be questioned for its merit. (IPA Service)