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Italy forces India to see the light of reason

Indian federalism is indeed taking a grotesque turn. The issue of the Italian marines becomes the third issue where Indian diplomacy is going to be buffeted by electoral politics. India’s ties with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are already reeling under the assault of the Dravida parties and the Trinamool respectively. 

All indications are that this is going to be a recurring phenomenon in Indian politics in the coalition era. Agitational politics comes handy, in particular, when a crucial parliamentary election looms ahead, which is the case now. Any, every issue holds the potential to be exploited for electoral advantage. How this charade is going to play out and how the Indian political class finally acquires the maturity to rise above theatrical antics remains to be seen. 
On the Sri Lanka issue the Left parties have been in and out of the Dravida camp from time to time, while on the Italian Marines issue they have instinctively surged to the barricades. That is understandable because the public gallery back in Kerala is watching and the Marines issue is a good controversy to pour scorn at the ruling UDF government. 
Of course, a vanity fair is going on between the UDF [United Democratic Front] and the rival left alliance known as LDF [Left Democratic Alliance] and the high probability is that an ugly verbal brawl will ensue over the Malayalam television channels shortly — that is, till the erudite Malayali gets fed up with all this grandstanding and moves on and the excited politician gets the message that there is no more scope to exploit the Italian Marines issue for political mileage.
However, that point is some considerable way off. There are two reasons for that. One, the country involved here is ITALY and Congress President Sonia Gandhi also happens to be an Indian of Italian origin. A CPM MP seems to be already smelling a political conspiracy on this score, perhaps, at the highest level of the Indian government! 
Two, the fishermen were Christians and sections of the Christian communities in the fishing villages of Kerala are open to ‘liberation theology’ and the Left parties smell blood. By the way, for the benefit of the uninitiated, Christian community forms the backbone of the UDF and any crack in its unity has grave political implications for Kerala’s highly polarized and delicately balanced political theatre.    
It is highly unlikely that the political class in Kerala will care to look at the facts of the Italian Marines affair. But then, facts are facts — and sometimes they are incontrovertible, as in this case. Simply put, the Italians took a very reasonable, flexible and humane stance all through this affair right from day one. All they wanted was a joint investigation before proceeding on the judicial track with a view to establish the competence of India (or Italy) to put their marines on trial. 
They paid a huge amount as ‘compensation’ to the affected families, which is manifold what any Indian government would give in similar circumstances. Finally, when they saw in Rome that Delhi was obdurately insisting on the ‘due process of law’, they agreed to it. The Italians took up this issue at the highest level of government and at one point it seemed even back channels were used. 
But to their consternation, Rome realized that this is virtually becoming an open-ended affair, given the pace at which the ponderous Indian system moves and the shenanigans of Indian politicians. Meanwhile, their marines would languish under detention. 
Now, Italy is a seasoned player in international diplomacy and wouldn’t have decided to force the issue without being certain one hundred percent that they do have a strong case under the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea. 
Without doubt, our government botched up this case. I had repeatedly pointed out that Kerala politicians like Chief Minister Oommen Chandy who have no clue about international law or diplomacy or foreign policy should not have queered the pitch for the central government when the case was at a crucial stage.
I am aghast why senior Congress Party leaders like Chandy should have been so defensive on this case. What if Soniaji is of Italian origin? She is as much an Indian like any of us and her stature as national figure wouldn’t have been sullied if South Block had agreed to the Italian proposal for a joint investigation. 
Well, now all that is history. The birds are coming to roost. What is to be done? The least that can be said is that the government should not again falter under the rabble rousing by motivated political parties. It should have the gumption to take a nonchalant attitude toward the theatrics that lies ahead and deal with the impasse calmly and with great foresight keeping in view the long-term national interests. 
Clearly, italy is a major European country and a key participant in the western alliance. India’s relations with Italy must be preserved. Rome is also manifestly keen on the friendly ties with India. We should have the magnanimity and integrity to do some honest soul searching and recognize, finally, that the Italians have been left with no option but to do what they have done, and we really didn’t provide them a reasonable exit door. On the whole, it was appalling diplomacy on our part and becomes yet another legacy of former EAM S. M. Krishna.
As I pointed out recently, this issue is also now entangled with the scam over the purchase of VVIP helicopters from Italy. The government has created a royal mess for itself. It cannot antagonize Rome, as we need Italy’s cooperation to get to the bottom of the helicopter scam. Fortunately, here in this Italian Marines affair no one alleges that money changed hands. So, it is ultimately a matter of bad political judgment and impudent diplomatic call. All we need is a course correction.
By the way, what I don’t understand is what happened to the Left parties when the US Navy shot down two Indians near Dubai a few months ago. It can’t be that the Left parties lost their panache for tilting at the windmill of American imperialism? But then, there was no political meat to be extracted out of the death of two hapless Indians hailing from a remote Tamil Nadu fishing village where the Left is probably unheard of, and chief minister Jayalalitha indeed brusquely closed the file. Whereas, this Italian affair concerns Kerala, the red rain land. 

Posted in Diplomacy, Politics.

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14 Responses

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  1. Communal Award says

    India is a banana republic.

  2. Anonymous says

    Soniaji! And it is plain old jayalalitha without the ‘ji’! Slaves will always be slaves!

  3. jomet_g says

    Sir, You never find the facts. They came to our land

  4. R S Chakravarti says

    Apparently the Italian media support the Indian stand, not yours.

  5. vinee mehra says

    seek financial compensation and get on with other work.if its good with U.A.E. ,its very good with italy .stop playing politics . chief minister kerala needS a SPINE.

  6. Sharique sami says

    When Indian citizens butchered in gujrat . Why every one is silent . This killing is happened outside of our jurisdiction in international waters .

  7. Thomas Mathew says

    Reproduced below is my tweet
    :”Thomas Mathew ‏@tomystic #Italianmarines #MKBhadrakumar’s views ,also expressed on Asianet are illuminating and stand out in the cacophony”
    I do not agree with Italy’s hoodwinking of India by not returning the marines, but things could have been done in a better way from the beginning. But we should also remember that an not insignificant Indian population – not the Catholic or Vatican kind,but farm labourers from Punjab – is present in Italy

  8. Dr Ajay says

    Politicians do politics – so what is surprising about that? Or bemoaning that regional politicians do not show understanding or consistency in international relations?
    The GOI and SC make the call on the Italian marines case. Since MKB does not quote any credible facts to justify Italians’ position, it appears that he advocates a purely a diplomatic transaction. Italians could always call for International intervention, if they were unhappy with Indian position. At this point, the Italians are in the wrong for reneging, the GOI and SC appear stupid in the least and conspiratoral at worst and relationships will Italians are tanking. Unfortunately, the Italian behavior does not show reason anywhere.

  9. Prashanth M says

    If an Indian Kills an Italian,will the treatment be the same ?????
    This has to be treated as missing case while on bail granted by honourable Indian Supreme Court.

    Indians are treated worser than dogs around the world,be it the very similar two Shaheed Indian Jawans beheaded by Pakistan,infant son of LTTE Prabhakaran killed brutally by Sri Lanka or denial of invitation to Mr.Modi,…….(others are not mentioned because of the ranks given to them in Indian Democracy System).

    Several corrupt ministers at the centre,church priests,…had arranged this exit comfortably.
    Despite the truth that the person killed were christian.Only difference is that they are from erstwhile Travancore,the most rejected part of Kerala.

  10. prabirbaran Sarkar says

    How Supream court released those criminals is a cofusion . In case of Purulia arms drop case
    The British Pilot was in Indian jail for more than 5 years in Purulia arms drop case

  11. KAUTILYA says

    -First you pretend to fall in love with a powerful man of the ruling family at the behest of Vatican intelligence.

    -Then you enter our home as a daughter.

    -then you convert our people to a faith which is foreign.

    -then you come to power and repeatedly steal our money.

    - You run our country like your own personal fiefdom.we ignorant, illiterate indians sit and watch.

    -We watch quietly and say nothing like we watched when the moghuls invaded,the afghans invaded,the british,french,portuguese invaded.

    -but now you steal our self respect.the already naked indian loses his self respect today.

    -We will most probably watch this quietly like we have watched our daughters raped,brothers killed and families converted by one and all.

    - but one day we will rise and the world will fall at our day betrayers like you will be brought to day I will be proud of my people…..until then I shall wait…..

  12. Sangeeth PV says

    This guy is amazing. Last seen he was writing for the communist parties. Since when he has become one against them? It hardly matters whether sonia is from Italy or some where else. India is not just some third world country of the past. If Manmohan singh govt is cool about this, they can forget about the next election.

  13. R S Chakravarti says

    They had no option? They gave an undertaking and violated it. Of course, it is strange that we didn’t notice that the marines could have voted in their embassy in Delhi. What is behind this negligence (if that is what it is)?

  14. setter.trend says

    Never trust any sheepizen who slavishly refers to Sonia as “soniaji”.

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