Sycophancy corrodes

Are Sonia Gandhi's sycophants coming home to roost? I ask the question not just because I was attacked on national television last week by one of her toadies, although I admit it gives me a useful peg. Said toady was Mani Shankar Aiyar and he was obnoxious to the point of being crass. But I understand his behaviour. His survival in politics depends on his unreserved, unquestioning devotion to the Gandhi family so he has to exhibit his loyalty any chance he gets. There are others like him who have scuttled out of different corners of Sonia's court to make me their favourite hate object since my book Durbar came out. They are of no consequence except in the drawing rooms of Delhi.

It is sycophants that Sonia has placed in high office who are really letting her down at a time when her government is being seen as beleaguered and incompetent. At the top of this list is the Prime Minister. The reason why he was given his job, not once but twice, was because his loyalty to the Gandhi dynasty was absolute. He could be trusted to take the blame for all mistakes and to give credit to the Gandhis for all things good. What neither he nor Sonia noticed was that when you are given charge of running a government, unquestioning loyalty is usually a serious handicap.

If the good Dr Manmohan Singh had been less loyal, he would have told Sonia long ago that her economic advisors in the National Advisory Council (NAC) were giving her bad advice. He would have told her that the centralised welfare schemes they imposed upon him had been tried in the past and failed. He said nothing so the NAC do-gooders were allowed to squander vast amounts of taxpayers' money on schemes of dubious merit. He said nothing either when corrupt ministers started using their discretionary powers to make private fortunes out of licences and contracts. They took full advantage of the infrastructure of crony socialism that continues to give officials the powers of life and death over private investors.

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