SUBIR BHAUMIK The burning down of 9 crude oil tankers in Upper Assam points to a change in equations between rebel groups in India’s Northeast. Indian intelligence agencies now confirm that this violent action was carried by joint squads of ULFA (Independent) and NSCN (Issak-Muivah) guerrillas. But ULFA(I) is in the rebel coalition UNLFSWEA that was…
Politicians often play to the gallery and talk much more than they should. When they speak on subjects they know little about, they make a fool of themselves.
Flattery makes them believe they know all they survey but that is not true. The result often is huge faux pas and unseemly controversy.
Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar waded into one such controversy during the recent FICCI ‘Connect Northeast’ conclave in Agartala (21-23 Sept).
Rather two controversies. On Day one, he appeared taking on Niti Aayog member and top economist Bibek Debroy when he said: “I don’t have to be an economist to understand how the country’s economy is working, I understand that as a common man.” And then he said: “Some educated people are fooling us.”
He appeared upset with Mr. Debroy’s comment that the FICCI summit was — “five years too early for Tripura”, as the state did not have the physical infrastructure to attract substantial investments.
But in an effort to attack the Modi administration and the Niti Aayog which it created, Mr. Sarkar shocked everyone by rubbishing the PPP (private-public partnership) model as unfit for developing infrastructure.
“Why should private companies develop our infrastructure, they come to exploit us,” Sarkar said, oblivious to how well the PPP model works for developing infrastructure in Communist China and elsewhere in the world.
“There is so much money to be made by financing infrastructure, Sarkar seems to have no idea of the changing business world,” said one top corporate honcho at the FICCI summit.
The chief minister was obviously struck in 1960s Marxist rhetoric.
On the second day, he attacked Indian foreign policy as ‘big brotherly’ in the region even as Bangladesh Industry Minister Amir Hussain Amu insisted India-Bangladesh relationship has touched new heights in the last 5-6 years.
Sarkar was factually wrong this time. Bangladesh and Afghanistan are unambiguously backing India in its victim-of-terror allegations against Pakistan since Uri because Delhi has managed to win them over by silent persuasion and not by ‘Dada-Giri’
The reportage of Sarkar’s speech must have gladdened Pakistani hearts at a time leaders of the two countries were battling it out in the UN General Assembly.
Good politicians know the time and place to say such controversial stuff — and surely not run the country down in such trying times.
Sarkar, perhaps unwittingly, ended up doing that.
And like on the PPP, Sarkar was factually wrong this time. Bangladesh and Afghanistan are unambiguously backing India in its victim-of-terror allegations against Pakistan since Uri because Delhi has managed to win them over by silent persuasion and not by ‘dadagiri’.
Also the way Sarkar rubbished the MEA Joint Secretary Partha Satpathy (he is a young fellow and may not know many things) was in real bad taste. Satpathy is a diplomat, not a political rival, as Sarkar made him look like.
For someone whose intellect is limited to a close reading of John Reed’s “Ten Days that shook the world” and not much else, it is time Sarkar read up a bit and kept pace with the fast changing times.