Need leadership, not one-upmanship

It would not be unfair or presumptuous to say that the Union government is currently in a state of suspended animation. Not because there is no progress; indeed, this country is still growing at a respectable rate of around sevenĀ  per cent per annum. But it is because the top three functionaries in government - the prime minister, the home minister and the finance minister are involved in an ugly, indeed embarrassing battle of attrition over their alleged complicity in the Rs 1.7 lakh crore 2G spectrum allocation scam.

A letter surfaced recently that implicitly charges current minister for home affairs and then finance minister P Chidambaram in the scandal by attributing to him the full knowledge of the 2G licensing process and stating that he could have avoided the alleged malpractice that led to the biggest ever loss to the exchequer in independent India's history. This was seemingly "leaked" in full knowledge of Mr Mukherjee, an act that has led to the battle of egos between the top two ministers in the Union cabinet.

When political one-upmanship replaces statesmanship, either the government or the nation could pay the price. To resolve this crisis, Mukherjee has flown to New York to meet with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is there to attend the United Nations General Assembly. Sadly, ever since the UPA came to power for the second time with a massive mandate, Dr Singh has shown little leadership that could rally his ministers together. The current crisis is further evidence that he has not improved his record in this regard.

However, it is imperative that this needs to be resolved, one way or the other. Of course, heads may roll - perhaps even at the highest levels. But given the circumstances, it would be better that the government pays the price for lack of leadership rather than the nation.

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